Europe

Man sentenced to life for rapes

A 30-year-old man who raped two young girls has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Republic of Ireland.

He attacked the nine-year-old and six-year-old in a flat in Athlone, County Westmeath, last September.

He lured them to the flat by pretending he had a six-year-old daughter who was too shy to come out to play.

When he got them inside he threatened the children's lives and those of their parents.

After the attack, they managed to escape through a window.

The girls' parents raised the alarm after they had been noticed missing.

They were found just as a 999 call was made. Police were called again after the girls told their parents what had happened to them.

The attacker was spotted by one of the victim's mothers and men at the scene detained him.

The court heard the accused man admitted his crimes on his fifth interview after arrest.

Trouble

He said he was "off his head" on drink and had been taking Valium but he said could not use that as an excuse.

He has a large number of previous convictions for a range of offences including public order, intoxication, criminal damage, burglary and had been given a number of short sentences, the longest of which was six months.

He had no previous convictions for sexual offences.

The court heard the convicted man was not a major offender but was constantly in trouble and was in and out of prison for minor offences.

He had alcohol and substance abuse problems from a very early age and had been in contact with psychiatric services.

He had been released from prison not long before he raped the two young girls and had been staying in the flat where the rapes took place.

Lawyers for the DPP said it was the director's view that these offences were at the upper end of the scale because of the nature of the behaviour, the age of the victims, the premeditation and the multiplicity of the assaults.

Before imposing life sentences, Mr Justice Paul Carney said the accused's dysfunctional background afforded little if any mitigation and the question of drink or drugs afforded no defence.

He said in the normal course of events he would be entitled to a substantial discount for pleading guilty but the case was too serious.

He sentenced him to life in prison on all five counts of rape. The sentences are to run concurrently.