A woman who was repeatedly raped by her father has told the Court of Appeal that she was “manipulated” into visiting him in prison by his relatives shortly after his conviction.
The 47-year-old man was found guilty last year of sexually assaulting and raping his daughter in Co Mayo and abroad on dates between 2006 and 2010 when she was aged seven to 11.
He is now appealing the conviction and his counsel told the court on Friday that the woman had told untruths during the original trial at the Central Criminal Court.
That trial heard that the first rape took place shortly after the death of the woman’s mother. The court heard that her father referred to his daughter by her dead mother’s name during the rape and continued to do so during subsequent attacks,.
Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy, who described the man’s offending as “depraved”, sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment with the final year suspended. He had pleaded not guilty and continues to maintain his innocence.
The Court of Appeal heard on Friday that the young woman visited her father in the Midlands Prison shortly after the trial.
In an affidavit, he said he was “overjoyed to see” her and “did not blame her for what happened”. He claimed his daughter hugged and kissed him and repeatedly said she was sorry and that she would try to get him out of jail.
The victim, who appeared via video link, said she was “manipulated” into visiting her father in prison by his relatives after being told that he was starving himself to death.
She told Alex Owens SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, that her father’s relatives were sending her messages after the trial “making it out that his life was in my hands”.
Her father has told the Court of Appeal that he assumed the purpose of her visit was “to say sorry”.
In response to this, she said: “Why would I say sorry to him? I’ve no reason to say sorry to him.”
In a sworn affidavit, she stated: “I did not say he was not a rapist” and “I did not say he did not do those things to me”.
Under cross examination from the man’s barrister, Micheál P. O’Higgins SC, the woman said she told her father in prison that she would withdraw her statement because she believed he would die in prison.
Referring to her father, she told Mr O’Higgins: ”Your client asked me to cancel the charges. I told him I would. Did I? No.”
Asked if she doubted herself about the abuse, she said: “Of course I doubted myself, I didn’t want it to be true but 12 people randomly selected gave me the answer I needed to get on with my life... And here I am again.”
Mr O’Higgins put it to her that “the reason you said what you said to various people and the whole fact of you visiting the prison, was entirely consistent with you feeling guilty about having told untruths at the trial.”
She said she had already explained herself.
The hearing continues later this month.