DPP appeals suspended sentence for man who raped wife’s 14-year-old sister

Appeal lodged on grounds of undue leniency

Following a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court in February, Niall Counihan was convicted by a jury of raping a then teenage victim – his wife’s sister – on two occasions and of indecently assaulting her on two other occasions over an eight-month period between September 1985 and May 1986.

Following a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court in February, Niall Counihan was convicted by a jury of raping a then teenage victim – his wife’s sister – on two occasions and of indecently assaulting her on two other occasions over an eight-month period between September 1985 and May 1986.

Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 12:05

The Director of Public Prosecutions has appealed on grounds of undue leniency a suspended jail sentence given to a man who raped his wife’s 14-year-old sister.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan last month gave Niall Counihan (52) of Springlawns, Longford, a seven-year suspended sentence for rape because he said imprisonment would impose extreme hardship on his family, particularly his two autistic children.

The judge said it was in the interests of society and of Counihan’s family that the family unit be “preserved and supported” because of the level of care required by the children. The court heard two of Counihan’s young sons have autism and require 24-hour care and attention. A third child has a number of medical health issues.

Following a four-day trial in February, Counihan was convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of raping the victim – his wife’s sister – on two occasions and of indecently assaulting her on two other occasions over an eight-month period between September 1985 and May 1986. He was 24 at the time.

Counihan, who is now with a different partner, had denied all charges.

In an appeal lodged on July 4th, the DPP argues that the sentence is unduly lenient. A separate appeal by Counihan against his conviction was made on June 27th. Detailed submissions have not yet been lodged for either appeal and court dates have not been set.


Victim statement
In her victim-impact statement, the victim said it was hard to find words for the “contagious and insidious effect” the abuse had had on every aspect of her life, or to describe the “pain, trauma, loss and sadness” she continued to feel every day.

The now 41-year-old woman said the rape had “stolen her teenage years and her curiosity for life” and that all of a sudden school, sport and friends had become irrelevant to her. The victim was raped on two occasions when she was staying over to babysit her sister’s children.