The Court of Appeal
An ex-soldier jailed for sexually abusing three young girls, including his stepdaughter, over the course of a decade, has had the final 12 months of his 15-year prison sentence suspended following a successful appeal.
Shane Costello (50), with an address at Hillview, Ballyhaise, Co Cavan, was found guilty of the rape, oral rape and attempted oral rape of his stepdaughter on dates in 2012 when she was aged between 13 and 14 years. He had denied these charges.
Waiving her right to anonymity, Costello’s stepdaughter said the attacks robbed her of her youth, innocence and dignity. “The past will never change, the pain will never leave, but I'm trying to make my future better”, she stated.
After the jury's verdicts, Costello pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two other children on dates between 2001 and 2013. He had two previous assault causing harm convictions from 1998.
Sentencing him to a total 15 years imprisonment, Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh said the task of trying to “translate human suffering into figures” was a “crude” exercise. She commended Costello’s stepdaughter for showing “great strength and great dignity” while giving evidence during the trial, and said she hoped that all three of his victims could move on with their lives. His sentence involved consecutive elements totalling 15 years.
The Court of Appeal suspended the final 12 months of his 15-year-sentence yesterday and ordered three years post-release supervision, following an appeal.
Giving judgement in the three-judge court, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the offending was “grave indeed”, involving as it did, the abuse of three young girls over a protracted period. She said Costello had abused his position of trust as a father, and father figure.
A prison governor’s report indicated that he was on an enhanced regime in prison, working in the laundry and attending the gym. A medical report raised the possibility of a recurring illness that may require treatment.
Ms Justice Kennedy said the sentence ought to have been structured in such a way as to incentivise rehabilitation.
It was also a case for three-years post-release supervision, she said.
Ms Justice Kennedy, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, resentenced Costello to 15 years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended.
He was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for the suspended period, and undertook to be so bound.
Costello’s barrister, Patrick Gageby SC, submitted to the sentencing court that his client had an “exemplary” career in the Irish defence forces until 1999.
He handed in testimonials and a letter of apology written by Costello, in which Costello said he was sorry and wished to undo the past. Mr Gageby said Costello also wanted to state publicly that his victims were blameless and that he accepted the jury's verdict.