March 2002

Child rape abortion row man jailed again

A man whose rape of a Dublin schoolgirl 10 years ago led to a controversy over the Irish Republic’s abortion laws, has been jailed for another sexual assault.

Sean O’Brien, 52, whose last address was given as Swords, County Dublin, was jailed on Tuesday for three and a half years for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old.

Passing sentence in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Pat McCartan said O’Brien, a taxi driver, who had denied the charges, was “a serious menace”.

The court heard the assault happened in 1999 after the girl hailed O’Brien’s taxi at Donnycarney Church in Dublin, and asked him to drive her to the Ambassador cinema in the city centre.

On Friday, he was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault and one count of false imprisonment.

Abortion on suicide grounds

In 1994, O’Brien had been convicted of raping the 14-year-old girl in 1992.

After that case the Irish Supreme Court ruled that the victim, known as X, who was suicidal because of the pregnancy, should be allowed to have an abortion.

In deciding between the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child, the court had ruled that she could have an abortion because her life was threatened.

The controversy surrounding the case led to the referendum which is to be held in the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.

The referendum is to decide whether women who are suicidal should be banned from having abortions in the state.