Patrick O’Brien (72) walked free from court on bail despite being found guilty of regularly raping his daughter over a ten-year period.
Fiona Doyle, his daughter, broke down in tears in court and was comforted by her husband. O’Brien received a 12-year custodial sentence but was released on grounds of ill health, age and remorse by Justice Paul Carney.
Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny said O’Brien’s case highlighted the inadequacies in Ireland’s court system. He urged the Court of Criminal Appeal to deal with the case as a matter of urgency.
The court’s decision to release O’Brien, who pleaded guilty to raping his daughter on a weekly basis, was immediately criticized by rape crisis campaigners who described it as “mystifying,” according to the Irish Independent.
Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, chairwoman of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said the Justice’s decision to let O’Brien walk out of court with his wife, Bridget, “beggars belief.”
Rape Crisis Network Ireland spokeswoman Cliona Saidlear said, "There is deep hurt and outrage out there. Every time there is a sentence like this, it has a lasting impact in terms of a survivor's confidence and their vindication, of survivor's rights, and a survivor going forward and feeling they will be taken seriously.”
On Facebook a public group was established on Monday night entitled “Justice for Fiona Doyle” where thousands of members of the public have voiced their outrage at the result of the case.
Justice Carney initially handed down a 12-year sentence describing the case as “one of the most serious cases of serial rape of a daughter.”
He then suspended nine years of the sentence.
O’Brien was released due to bad health despite the fact that Frances Nagle O’Connor, the director of nursing services with the Irish Prison Service, had told the court that patients with similar health issue to O’Brien received adequate care during their sentences.
The victim, Doyle, said the fact that O’Brien walked free from court “without serving one day, just one day" was devastating.
"He raped me for 10 years and he just walks out of here today. I just can't believe that this has happened.
"From the age of eight I was called my father's whore. Those words will continue to ring in my head for the rest of my life, and so will today," she said.
Kenny commended Doyle, who waived her right to anonymity, and said she showed great courage throughout the case. He said he would arrange a Parliamentary debate on the reform of the court system.
He said, “I suggest we should have a discussion about what the Oireachtas feels should be put in place for the future, given that there are inadequacies with some respects of our court system in terms of consistency, membership and capacity to respond quickly,” reports the Belfast Telegraph.
O’Brien (from Bray, County Wicklow) pleaded guilty to the charges of rape and indecent assault between 1973 and 1982. He first raped her on the night before her First Holy Communion.