Four-fold increase in calls to rape crisis centre following judgment
Calls to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre have increased four-fold after the release on bail of Patrick O’Brien (72), a Wicklow man who raped and sexually assaulted his daughter over nine years.
Its chief executive, Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, said victims of sexual crimes, waiting to go through the court process, were “absolutely devastated” by the sentence. “We are getting four times the number of calls we would normally receive,” she said.
Of possible concerns by Mr Justice Paul Carney that a less lenient sentence might be overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal on the basis of the defendant’s age or health, she said: “It doesn’t matter how old you are . . .this man has been found guilty of a heinous crime against a child.”
Describing Mr Justice Carney as “an experienced judge” who has “delivered really good judgments in his time on the bench”, she said “he seems to be terribly frustrated by the Court of Criminal Appeal”.
“But I would ask, is there not another way to deal with that, rather than through a poor victim who has got justice in that this man has pleaded guilty?
“I don’t think this is the right way to deal with his difficulties with the Court of Criminal Appeal because it’s the victim who falls between the cracks.”
Ms O’Malley Dunlop also called for a permanent Court of Criminal Appeal.
Cari chief executive Mary Flaherty said Fiona Doyle, the victim of the convicted man, had been “re-victimised” because of “the ongoing dispute between Judge Paul Carney and the Court of Criminal Appeal”. “It seems as if the judge has decided to make this a test case,” she said.
Ms Flaherty said while there were “valid legal issues” to be highlighted by the judge, such as the success of perpetrators in using the appeal system to undermine their convictions, “the re-victimisation of Fiona Doyle” was “too high a price to pay”. She said the release sent a message to abusers that put children at risk.
The freephone helpline of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is 1800-777888.