He sniggered in court at the daughter he raped – Jailed for 11 years
Patrick Naughton’s abused child wants to rebuild her life, but the Molloy scandal has reopened her wounds, writes Liz Walsh
PATRICK Naughton was smiling as he walked through the Round Hall of the Four Courts and up the stone steps of Court 3. The burly Galway father did not have the look of a man facing a jail sentence for the multiple rape and buggery of his daughter. He sniggered while walking past the daughter he had raped repeatedly since she was nine, and continued smirking as he walked past his estranged wife, whom he had battered and abused from the first year of their marriage.
As Naughton took his place in the dock, court registrar Liam Convery called case number CCOO90/00 for what should have been a straight forward sentencing hearing.
On October 31 last, a Central Criminal Court jury found 48-year-old Patrick Naughton guilty of 18 sample charges of rape and buggery dating from 1987 to 1993.
The incestuous assaults occurred on almost a weekly basis, making it impossible for Naughton’s daughter, now 23, to pin down dates. When he was done raping her, Naughton would threaten to throw her into a bog with a rope tied around her neck so her body would never be found.
Sometimes, after raping her on a lonely boithrin, he would fall asleep, leaving the child shivering beside him in the car until the early hours of the morning. The one specific charge related to June 19, 1997. His daughter remembered that date with perfect clarity because that was the night he almost choked her to death in his car.
The victim’s mother told of waking up one night to the sound of screaming coming from her daughter’s bedroom. She got up to see what was wrong and found Naughton in the bedroom. When she asked what he was doing there, he lashed out with his fists. Many a time, after he had beaten his wife to a pulp, she ended up in hospital.
For seven days, the young victim faced her father across the courtroom and told the jury how it was for all those years in her Connemara home: the beatings, the rapes, the threats.
Naughton got a painting job in the local school and raped her there. She ended up in hospital in June 1997, the day after the final rape, but he turned up at her bedside and threatened to kill her if she reported him.
She had no friends as she grew up because her father kept them away. She couldn’t have friends her own age now because she had nothing to talk about but pain and sadness. She was an impressive witness in the box; articulate and honest.
It was not until December 1997, six months after the night her father tried to choke her to death, that she contacted the gardai in Galway and made a formal complaint. She knew she had to put a stop to the systematic abuse. If she hadn’t, there was a good chance she would end up dead, she told me on Thursday last. The victim’s mother and sister supported her; her brothers refused to believe her and backed up their father. In the victim’s own words, “It scattered the family apart.” Instead of accepting responsibility for the systematic abuse of his daughter, Patrick Naughton put her through the ordeal of a seven-day trial.
“My father’s actions have imprisoned all my young life,” she said in court. Now it was his turn. She waived her statutory right to anonymity and told the media she wanted him named. And last Tuesday morning, the victim, the witnesses and the gardai assembled in Court 3 for the sentencing of convicted rapist Patrick Naughton.
5 THE HEARING
SHORTLY after 11.30am, the bombshell dropped. Defence barrister PJ McCarthy, an affable senior counsel from Cork, stood up and addressed the trial judge Mr Justice Philip O’Sullivan. “I wonder, My Lord, if the court has received an affidavit?” he enquired.
The “affidavit” referred to was from Anne Naughton, Patrick Naughton’s sister, who was sitting at the back of the court, away from her niece and the rest of the family. The victim was fully aware that Anne Naughton had been working behind the scenes to secure Patrick Naughton’s release and that she was also protesting his innocence to anyone prepared to listen.
No, the judge replied, he had not seen any such affidavit. What he did recall, though, were two phone calls which might be linked to Mr McCarthy’s request. The first had come at the end of the day from a male caller in the Department of Justice who asked the judge if he would take a call at home. He refused. Justice O’Sullivan went on to say he had taken a second call in his chambers from a woman in Minister Molloy’s office who asked if he had received communication from Patrick Naughton’s sister. He terminated this call immediately.
It was, said Justice O’Sullivan, “a totally improper” approach from a Government minister to a member of the judiciary. He then picked up two yellow envelopes lying on his bench. He asked counsel for both sides if they wanted them opened and their contents read out in open court. Both declined. Prosecution counsel Mr Patrick Gageby SC suggested to the judge that they be “returned to sender”, at which point Justice O’Sullivan handed the two unopened letters to registrar Liam Convery. Anne Naughton’s name and address was written on the left-hand side of both envelopes.
The defence solicitor walked down the courtroom and handed them to Anne Naughton in the public gallery. The victim was appalled. “I knew she was bad, I knew she was working away behind the scenes on his behalf but I didn’t know she had tried to contact the judge. I was shocked,” she told me after the trial. Anne Naughton’s handwritten notes, which were almost identical, claimed her brother was “an innocent man”.
The hearing adjourned for lunch. On his way back into court afterwards, Naughton passed by his daughter and whispered something in Irish. Although she couldn’t catch what it was, she knew it was abusive, she said.
Judge O’Sullivan sentenced Patrick Naughton to 11 years and ordered that his name be placed on the registry of sex offenders. After passing sentence, the judge made it quite clear that the Constitution provides for justice to be administered in public. There was no question of any “behind-the-door” workings taking place. He had seen nothing, and read nothing, that would have affected his judgement, other than court records.
Anne Naughton’s efforts on her brother’s behalf were in vain. The system worked. As the court emptied, Naughton was bundled into a prison van to begin his sentence. He was no longer smiling.