A UK businessman convicted of sexually abusing two girls targeted them when they were being neglected by their mother and moved the family to Ireland to avoid detection.

The 37-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, was found guilty at the Central Criminal Court of three counts of rape and eight counts of sexually assaulting two girls at addresses in Dublin and Louth between 3 December 2010 and 10 March 2011 when they were aged 10 and 12 years old.

Mr Justice Michael White noted that the man still maintains his innocence and disputes the verdicts. He said a mitigating factor of a guilty plea was not available to him in sentencing.

He imposed a 14-year custodial sentence but suspended the last two years on condition that the man keep the peace for the entirety of the 14-year sentence. 

He also ordered that the man must participate in the "Better Lives" treatment programme for sex offenders to avail of the suspension.

The judge said these were "grave offences" and crimes at the most serious level.

He said it was clear the offences had had a "devastating" effect on the two victims who would have to live with the breach on their innocence for the rest of their lives.

An investigation was launched after the two girls had been taken into care in 2011 and the man fled to Chile.

He was extradited from the United States in 2014 after gardaí heard he was planning to fly to Florida for a business trip and was brought back to Ireland after US marshals in Florida handed him over to gardaí.

Detective Garda Michael Scanlon told Pauline Walley SC, prosecuting, that the girls were living with their mother and younger siblings in the UK.

The man came into their lives in early 2010 and shortly afterwards, the family moved into his house in a nearby upmarket area.

He showered the children with gifts, holidays and trips to theme parks. UK social services had already been heavily involved with the mother and children and they became increasingly concerned that the man had daily control of the children and appeared to be involved in their "physical grooming".

In November 2011, when UK social services ramped up their intervention with the family, the family left the jurisdiction "under the control" of the man and moved to Co Louth.

The court heard the mother was often absent from the family home, travelling to the UK or other parts of Ireland.

The man regularly sexually assaulted both girls. This progressed to rape on a number of occasions.

Det Gda Scanlon said that in December 2010, the man and the older girl travelled to Dublin and got caught up in the snowy weather at the time.

They ended up staying the night in a hotel and the man sexually assaulted and raped the girl in the room that night.

Later that night, when the girl was asleep, local gardaí called to the room to check up on her. This was due to a notification in the system from UK social services.

They found nothing untoward, saw that the girl was asleep and left. 

There was a delay in communication between UK and Irish social services, with Irish social services only getting involved with the family in January 2011.