A Wexford man has been jailed for 12 years for raping his ex-partner's daughter in a case the Director of Public Prosecutions viewed as being on the "severe end of the scale".

The man, 40, was convicted by a jury of eight charges of sex assault, three of oral rape and one of raping the girl at two locations in Waterford on dates between 2003 and 2008.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed various sentences amounting to a total of 12 years.

He suspended none of the term after noting that "there was very little to be said in the man's favour".

He noted the health difficulties of the man, and said he was "giving him light at the end of the tunnel" by not imposing a longer sentence.

The judge noted the "great resilience and strength of character" of the victim who now enjoys a healthy family life.

However, he observed she is still on poor terms with her mother. 

He said that this was perhaps not surprising given that her mother stayed with the accused after the allegations came to light and even went on to marry him.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the now 17-year-old victim's identity, pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to all charges.

He said the man sent text messages saying he might have touched the girl after being admitted to hospital following a paracetamol overdose in 2008.

The man later denied the content of these messages when interviewed by gardaí, attributing them to hospital staff taking his phone or the effects of paracetamol.

Detective Garda O'Flynn told Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, that the man also claimed the girl's uncle may have been the abuser.

The detective said the girl made a complaint about abuse to gardaí with her grandmother in 2003, but later withdrew the allegation.

In 2008, she wrote a letter to a social worker detailing the abuse, which had escalated to rape.

From this the gardaí opened an investigation.

The now 17-year-old girl said in her victim impact statement that she feels she can now have a peaceful childhood.

She said she had suffered from flashbacks of the man coming into her room at night and of the fights between him and her mother.

The girl described how the court case outcome had given her a sense of "courage, justice, belief and hope" and that she can now live in peace and "act my age".

Detective Garda O'Flynn agreed with Ciaran O'Loughlin SC, defending, that there had been a happy family relationship before it degenerated.

Mr O'Loughlin submitted that his client suffers from health issues including stress and depression, which will all be exacerbated in jail.

Ms Gearty submitted that the DPP viewed this as "severe" in the category of offending, given the man's parental role, the victim's young age, the nature of the offences and their multiplicity.