A 47-year-old woman who subjected her five-year-old daughter to prolonged, repeated and intense sexual abuse and child exploitation has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. 

Speaking at a sitting of the circuit court in Longford this morning, Judge Tony Hunt said the woman was guilty on the highest scale of neglect and abuse of children. 

The woman comes from the west of Ireland, but cannot be named for legal reasons.

The judge praised gardaí and the child protection services for taking steps to remove the young girl from her mother’s home, but said that certain horrific details of the abuse only came to light when the child was later in foster care. 

All of the offences took place since July 2004, a fact that led the judge to say that society could never become complacent when it comes to the abuse and neglect of children. 

He said he had never come across as sad a case. 

He felt that the level of abuse, exploitation and neglect was unprecedented, which was why the sentence he was handing down was very close to a life sentence. 

He said the mother had a mild intellectual disability and alcohol problems, but said that nothing could excuse the level of abuse from the person the young girl should have been able to trust most.

Judge Hunt suspended the final four-and-a-half years of the sentence, but made an order that the woman would be subject to a period of post-release supervision and would enter into a bond which prohibited her from making any contact with her three children. 

In an earlier court prosecution, a man who was a neighbour of the woman and her child was convicted of rape and other sexual offences before the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence.