Friday, July 22, 2022

Eimear Dodd

A Laois man who sexually abused his young daughter over a four-year period has been handed a ten-year prison sentence.

Patrick Shiels (66) sexually abused and orally raped his daughter Marlene Prakash-Shiels when she was aged between four and eight, during visits to his home between September 2000 and December 2004.

The Central Criminal Court had previously heard that Ms Prakash-Shiels wished to waive her right to anonymity.

Shiels was found guilty of oral rape and four counts of sexual assault on various occasions between September 2000 and December 2004 at his then address in Togher, Portlaoise, Co Laois following a retrial earlier this year.

Child cruelty

He was also found guilty of two charges of child cruelty by forcing the victim to drink alcohol and to watch pornography.

Shiels was convicted and jailed following a previous trial, but released from custody in July 2021 after the Court of Appeal ordered a re-trial.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt finalised the case on Friday and said that Shiels had broken the trust placed in him.

He said Ms Prakash-Sheils had tragically lost her mother in violent circumstances at a young age and this was followed by sexual abuse at the hands of her father.

Mr Justice Hunt said this case fell within the more serious category and imposed a headline sentence of 12 years on the count of oral rape.

He said there was limited scope for mitigation as the defendant does not accept the verdict of two juries and has expressed no remorse.

However, the absence of previous convictions, Shiels’ age and the contents of medical reports could be considered “minor mitigating factors”, Mr Justice Hunt said.

He reduced the sentence for the oral rape count to 10 years and imposed four-year sentences on each of the remaining counts to run concurrently with credit for time served in custody.

Mr Justice Hunt said Ms Prakash-Shiels was an “impressive and resilient” person whose “inner strength would help her and her new family to prosper in future”.

Describing her victim impact statement as “eloquent and extensive”, Mr Justice Hunt wished Ms Prakash-Sheils, who was not in court, and her family well for the future.

Visits

At an earlier sentencing hearing, Garda Detective Amy Duffy told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting, that the victim was placed into foster care following the death of her mother in 2001. Arrangements were in place for her to visit her father.

The victim gave evidence that incidents of sexual assault took place while lying on a bed in a mobile home where her father resided.

Detective Duffy said the victim recalled alcohol was a consistent feature of her visits to her father and Shiels made her drink cider on one occasion.

The relationship between father and daughter broke down in 2010, and they had no contact for several years while she was a young teenager.

Devastating flashbacks

In her victim impact statement, which she read to court, Ms Prakash-Shiels said she hoped it would be the last time she would “see the face of the person who had caused so much destruction” in her life and the lives of many others.

Ms Prakash-Shiels said she continues to suffer “devastating and horrific” flashbacks.

Shiels’ actions conditioned her to believe she could not reach her potential, however, she said she stood in court a person who is “not a failure”.

Ms Prakash-Shiels said many people had let her “slip through the cracks” and certain family members overlooked what was happening to her as it did not affect them directly.

She said she was asked not to pursue the case as it would bring shame and embarrassment to the family.

She was also asked to “take pity” on her father due to his alcoholism, but this had the effect of placing the burden of his actions onto her.

Ms Prakash-Shiels said she had one parent who had passed away and a second who is alive but “dead to me”. Her father had shown “no remorse or recognition of what he has done” despite being given many chances.

She said she feels only pity that he has “no one but alcohol” and will never have the chance to meet her children.

Comments are closed.

Contact Newsdesk: +353 59 9170100

More National News