Limerick taxi driver who ‘willed’ family dog to engage in sexual acts with daughter jailed

Sarah-Jane Murphy and Declan Brennan

Reporter:

Sarah-Jane Murphy and Declan Brennan

Patrick Byrnes was convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court last July

Patrick Byrnes was convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court last July

A RETIRED Limerick taxi driver who “willed” the family dog to engage in sexual acts with his daughter, has been jailed for six years. 

Patrick Byrnes, aged 78, of Castletroy, who sexually abused two of his daughters and raped one of them over a ten-year period has been jailed for six years. 

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He was convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court last July of 58 charges of indecent assault and two counts of rape on dates between 1975 and 1985.

Byrnes began abusing his daughters when they were aged around seven, the year of their First Communion. The court heard they lived in abject fear of him and have been left broken by the decade of abuse.

Three of the indecent assault charges involved Byrnes “willing” the family dog to engage in sexual acts with one daughter. The court heard that he told the two children that he and their mother would split up if they told anyone about the abuse.

The father-of-nine denied all the charges and continues to deny them. This Thursday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott noted that the case has split the family.

He said the daughters were repeatedly abused by their father and lived a life of “abject fear”. He abused them with impunity. He noted that both women said they were left broken by the childhood abuse.

The judge noted Byrnes also suffers from a number of health conditions including heart disease and osteoarthritis but said there is nothing to suggest these can't be addressed in prison.

He said that given Byrnes’ lack of remorse and his refusal to admit responsibility the only mitigating factors he could consider were his age. He said Byrnes might die in prison and he has given that serious consideration.

He set a headline sentence of nine years for the rape and six for the sexual assault but reduced these by one year to take account of his age. He suspended the final two years of the sentence on condition that Byrnes is not in the company of any woman under the age of 18 unless accompanied by another adult.

All the sentences are to run concurrently.

Garda Tony Carmody told Gerry Clarke SC, prosecuting, that both complainants had waived their right to anonymity in order that their father, who they said they will never forgive, be named.

Byrnes had worked as a lorry driver for a beverage company and a delivery man for a fruit wholesalers prior to becoming a taxi driver and had never previously come to garda attention, the court heard.

Gda Carmody said the defendant’s wife died in 2013 and shortly after this, the complainants reported the matter to gardaí.

The court heard that the women were both aged seven when the sexual abuse began and it continued on a twice-weekly basis for a period of ten years.

The majority of the sexual abuse took place in the family home when the complainants were having baths, and in a coal shed adjacent to the property. Byrnes also sexually assaulted the girls in his car during shopping trips.

He would place a picnic blanket on their lap and molest them while other family members had left the car to go into the supermarket, Gda Carmody told Mr Clarke.

Byrnes regularly called each of the girls downstairs under the pretext of getting a glass of water for his wife and would assault them in the kitchen while their mother and siblings slept upstairs, the court heard.

Byrnes raped the younger of the two women twice in the sitting room of his home while other family members slept.

Victim impact statements on behalf of both women were read aloud to the court. One of the complainants, now aged 49, said she lived in fear morning and night.

She said Byrnes told her she was his special little girl and said the abuse was “how daddies showed love to their daughters”.

“I hated my childhood, he robbed me of it. But I protected my Mum by not allowing this vile secret to be out in the open,” she said.

The other woman, now aged 50, said she was terrified of Byrnes and described him as the controller of the family.

“He beat me to a pulp because he said I looked like my mother,” she wrote.

This woman said she loved animals as a child, and was thrilled when a neighbour gave her a dog as a present. However, she couldn't bear to be near the animal after Byrnes encouraged the dog to participate in the abuse on three occasions.

“Consensual sex felt wrong to me after what my father did to me and resulted in my broken marriage,” she said.

The woman said the sexual abuse lead to depression and to three suicide attempts.

“I will never ever forgive you, you showed no remorse, but now I'm back in control,” she said.

Mark Nicholas SC, defending, told the court that Byrnes suffers from a heart condition that would make custody difficult.

He told Mr Justice Paul McDermott that his client maintains his innocence.

“This was an unusual case in that some of the family members gave evidence on behalf of the defence,” he said.