A 30-year-old father of two is to plead guilty to the horrific rape of two young girls after they went missing from a birthday party in Athlone.

The shocking crime caused national outrage in September when the man raped the six and nine year old girls after luring them away from a party.

The accused, a 30-year-old father of two, has now indicated that he will plead guilty when his case comes to trial in the Central Criminal Court, according to a report in the Irish Independent.

The man is charged with twice raping each of the two little girls in Athlone on September 29.

The alarm was raised when they were discovered to be missing from the party and it later emerged that they had been raped at a nearby house by a man visiting the locality.

The accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been in custody at Castlerea Prison since first appearing at Longford District Court on October 1.

Lawyer Gearoid Geraghty had made it clear that no bail was contemplated and, at his request, the accused man has been placed on suicide watch at Castlerea Prison.

At a remand hearing at Harristown District Court in Castlerea, Geraghty told Judge Geoffrey Browne that his client had indicated ‘a certain course of action’ to the four charges before the court.

He said his client was willing to forgo the book of evidence in the case and he wanted to know what the attitude of the Director of Public Prosecutions was as he wished to progress matters.

Inspector Padraic Jones told the court that there was a large volume of information to be considered in the case.

Judge Browne remanded the 30-year-old in continuing custody at Castlerea Prison. He is due to appear again at Harristown District Court on December 6.

The accused man is unemployed and of no fixed abode and has been on legal aid since his initial court appearance.

Geraghty later confirmed that his client had waived his right to the book of evidence and that he had indicated he would be pleading guilty to the four charges when the case comes before the Central Criminal Court.

The families of the two young girls have expressed their thanks to police and local people in Athlone for their support following the incident.

In a statement, they said: “The compassion and professionalism of the gardai (police) has been a source of great comfort for us and, more importantly for our precious little daughters.

“The other professional care providers have also helped us to begin to find our way through this challenging period.

“Finally, we would also like to recognise the kindness and practical support that we have received from the people of Athlone.

“The level of public empathy and practical assistance has been immense and again it has been a source of comfort to us all at this most difficult time.”