A man “of some standing” in his community who repeatedly raped his friend's daughter when she was a child has lost his appeal against conviction.
Lawyers for the man (67), who can't be named to protect the victim's identity, complained to the three-judge Court of Appeal that the trial judge should not have told the jury they could return a majority verdict in circumstances where there was evidence they had not yet considered some of the 32 counts against him.
Michael Bowman SC, for the appellant, also argued that the trial judge should not have allowed the dates of the offences on the indictment to be changed after the prosecution had finished its closing speech to the jury.
In an electronic judgement delivered this Friday, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham dismissed the appeal.
He said the jury had been considering their verdict for a considerable period before the judge told them they could return a majority verdict.
Commenting on the complaint about the indictment being changed at a late point in the trial, Mr Justice Birmingham said there was no unfairness to the accused and he pointed out that at the time it wasn't a particular concern to the defence.
He added: "Overall, we have not been persuaded that the judge’s rulings were erroneous, or that by reason of them, it could be said that the trial was unfair or the verdicts unsafe or unsatisfactory."
The appellant was tried in 2017 and found guilty by a jury of six counts of rape, three counts of sexual assault, three counts of oral rape and one count of attempted oral rape at various locations in County Clare between June 1991 and August 1992.
He was found not guilty of a further 16 counts of rape, indecent assault and sexual assault. His victim was aged between 12 and 14 at the time of the attacks.
Sentencing him following the trial, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the abuse had a "deep and long-lasting impact" on the victim, which continues to this day.
"These are very serious offences perpetrated on a young and vulnerable child by a man she believed to have social standing in the community and who was friends with her parents," Ms Justice Kennedy said.
She said the man had engaged in a breach of trust when he abused a child of “tender years” and noted that he has not admitted guilt or expressed remorse for his actions.
Ms Justice Kennedy handed down a nine-year sentence but suspended the final 12 months on a number of conditions.
Detective Garda Claire O'Shaughnessy previously told a sentencing hearing that the man was a friend of the victim's parents and a “man of some standing” in his community. He was in his late thirties and married when he carried out the abuse.
The court heard the abuse started when the girl was raped and sexually assaulted at 12 years of age. The man forced her to give him oral sex on numerous occasions in two office locations, the court heard.
The abuse ended shortly before her 14th birthday.
Mr Justice Birmingham sat with Mr Justice Brian Murray and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.