DPP expected to apply to have rapist's bail revoked
The Director of Public Prosecutions is expected to make an application at the Central Criminal Court this morning to have the bail of Patrick O’Brien – who was convicted of raping his daughter over a 10-year period – rescinded.
The decision of Mr Justice Paul Carney on Monday to sentence the 72-year-old to 12 years, with nine suspended, and then grant O’Brien bail pending an appeal, provoked strong reaction. When imposing the sentence, Mr Justice Carney noted the defendant’s poor health.
When today’s proceedings are completed, The Irish Times understands O’Brien’s legal team intends to appeal what he sees as the severity of his sentence and the DPP intends to appeal what she sees as the undue leniency of the sentence.
O’Brien, of Old Court Avenue, Bray, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of his daughter, Fiona Doyle, at Mackintosh Park, Pottery Road, Dún Laoghaire, from 1973 to 1982.
The abuse began when she was aged seven. O’Brien pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced on Monday. But after being granted bail pending an appeal, he walked free from court. Ms Doyle said she was devastated.
“Last week I felt great. I was vindicated and I was told I was telling the truth. He admitted it. He pleaded guilty. For him to walk out . . . without serving one day is just devastating.”
She believed his health issues had been exaggerated “to a great level”.
O’Brien was charged with 16 sample offences; eight of rape and eight of indecent assault.
In cases where sample charges are considered by the court, the remaining charges must be dealt with after a trial.
That issue is normally regarded as a legal formality during which a representative of the DPP’s office informs the judge that the charges are not being proceeded with. That matter is due before Mr Justice Carney today at 11am. The DPP is expected to use the opportunity to apply to have O’Brien’s bail rescinded. The Irish Times understands the DPP will challenge the jurisdiction of Mr Justice Carney to grant bail.
The DPP is expected to argue that post-conviction bail could only be considered by the Court of Criminal Appeal and only after the convicted person had initiated an appeals process, which has not yet happened.
The DPP is also expected to argue that bail should only be granted by the Court of Criminal Appeal in cases where that court determined there might be grounds for an appeal and also a prospect that it might be successful.
The legal principles were laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of DPP v Corbally in 2000. It upheld a decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal to refuse bail to a man convicted of firearms offences.
Protests planned: Dublin and Bray
Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil he would meet Fiona Doyle “to hear her view, as a victim of unspeakable horror, to get her perspective on how a victim would perceive the court system to be working”.
Mr Kenny had received no formal request for a meeting from Ms Doyle, a spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said.
Mr Kenny said he could not “comment on the judge in question or on the sentence issued” but was very happy to meet Ms Doyle “at a convenient time”.
Two protest rallies in support of Ms Doyle are planned for Saturday.
Both have been organised through “Justice for Fiona Doyle”, a Facebook group that has gathered more than 7,600 supporters since it was created on Monday.
The first rally, a “standing demonstration”, is set to take place between noon and 2pm outside the Dáil on Kildare Street. The second, described as a “peace protest”, is scheduled to start at the Bray Town Council offices, Main Street, at 4pm.