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Child rapist sent back to jail


Fiona Doyle speaking to the media outside the Central Criminal Court in Dublin

Fiona Doyle speaking to the media outside the Central Criminal Court in Dublin

Fiona Doyle speaking to the media outside the Central Criminal Court in Dublin

Child rapist Patrick O'Brien has been jailed after a senior judge revoked his bail and admitted he should not have let him walk free from court.

Judge Paul Carney said it had been inappropriate and insensitive to release the 72-year-old after sentencing him for inflicting a decade of abuse on his daughter.

His victim Fiona Doyle was left devastated by the judge's decision on Monday, which sparked public and political outrage and renewed calls for rape sentencing guidelines.

Explaining the U-turn, Judge Carney told the Central Criminal Court in Dublin: "I have no hesitation in expressing to Ms Doyle my profound regret for the distress that has been caused to her in this case."

Ms Doyle, 47, stayed in the courtroom and watched until her father was led away using a walking frame to holding cells by prison officers.

"Justice has been served and I have been vindicated," the married mother-of-five later said.

O'Brien, of Old Court Avenue, Bray, Co Wicklow, had pleaded guilty to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of his daughter from 1973 to 1982. The brutal ordeal began on the night before her First Holy Communion.

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On Monday he was sentenced to 12 years, with nine suspended, but walked from the court when he was freed on bail pending an appeal certified by Judge Carney. No application had been made at the time by either O'Brien's defence lawyers or state prosecutors to challenge the sentence at the three-judge Court of Criminal Appeal.

On Thursday, Judge Carney, regarded as one of the country's most senior criminal judges, told the packed courtroom that he was prepared to accept his sentencing had been dealt with in a procedurally confused manner "at the very least". He stressed he had been fully aware of the gravity of the case, but that he had a mandatory obligation to take account of the health of the accused, who carries oxygen with him and is under the care of nine consultants for various disorders.

Outside the court, Ms Doyle revealed she still plans to meet the Taoiseach next Wednesday to tell him about her hurt, the problems she found with the justice system and the issues the case brought to light.

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