Decision by judge to revoke bail welcomed
Campaign groups and politicians have welcomed Justice Paul Carney’s decision to revoke the bail of convicted rapist Patrick O’Brien.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre received a “tremendous response from people ringing . . . who are tremendously relieved and who say it’s a victory for victims”, said chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop.
“The really important thing is it restores people’s faith in the criminal justice system.”
She said she hoped the decision would encourage other victims to “stay the course . . . because these perpetrators have to be brought to justice”. She also called for the establishment of a permanent court of criminal appeal and specialist training for judges to deal with sexual abuse.
The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland commended the judge “for recognising and apologising for his earlier decision on bail” and taking “swift action” to revoke O’Brien’s bail.
The organisation said it hoped O’Brien’s victim, his daughter Fiona Doyle, feels she has been taken seriously within the criminal justice system and that the decision goes some way to “healing the trauma she expressed after the sentence hearing on Monday”.
Caroline Counihan, the network’s legal director, added: “We hope that judges will use the experience of this case to work with others concerned with the criminal justice system to look at establishing guidelines for sentencing.”
Campaign group One in Four issued a statement expressing “hope that this decision in some way alleviates the distress of Fiona Doyle, who has spoken out so courageously about her experiences of sexual abuse”.
The group’s executive director, Maeve Lewis, said: “The events of the past week highlight the difficulties experienced by victims of sexual crime when they engage with the criminal justice system. Far too often they feel unheard and let down.”
She said sexual abuse cases should be heard in special courts. She called on the Taoiseach to consider this.
CARI, which supports children affected by sexual abuse, praised the judge’s “honesty and bravery to admit his errors and to amend them so quickly”.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said that “no woman should be subjected to the type of abuse that [Ms Doyle] was subjected to”.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said the intervention “is most welcome and will hopefully go some way towards providing some comfort to Fiona Doyle and her family”. He urged greater consistency in sentencing and said public confidence in the system needed to be enhanced.
“This case further highlights the pressure on individual members of the judiciary and the need to support judges with guidelines on sentencing,” he said.