A drama teacher who raped a student when she was around seven years old has been jailed for ten years.

Kevin Carroll, 56, raped the girl in an Offaly school when he held her back after drama class nearly twenty years ago.

The victim gave evidence that after the incident a woman at the school told her not to upset her mother by telling her about the rape.

Carroll, of Hawthorne Drive, Birr in Offaly, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape and anal rape at the Offaly school on a date between 1996 and 1998 when the girl was between six and eight.

He was convicted on both counts.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan noted that Carroll had offered no mitigation and still rejected the verdict of the jury.

She said the jury had found his victim to be "a credible and reliable witness" and she commended the woman's "strength and great dignity" in reading out her emotional victim impact report.

Judge Heneghan said any sentence must take into account the "revulsion of society at such crimes".

She took into account that the victim was a defenceless child at the time and Carroll held a position of authority over her.

She imposed a ten-year sentence and ordered Carroll to undergo two years' post-release supervision.

She also ordered he be registered as a sex offender.

The woman began her victim impact statement by quoting the poem "The Forge" by Seamus Heaney. "All I know is a door into the dark", she told the court.

She said she felt like she "was given a life sentence at the age of six."

She felt "humiliated and degraded" throughout the trial process which she found "exceptionally difficult."

She said she had trouble with State exams because they were held in halls similar to the one she was raped in.

She also had to give up certain sports because they took place in halls.

She concluded that the rape had not destroyed her and she was slowly learning to cope with the help of therapy.

The court heard earlier this week that Carroll is to launch an appeal against his conviction because a juror was allegedly "smiling and winking" at gardaí during his trial.