Latest in a line of controversial sex offence sentences


Background:A number of recent sentences for sex offences have been criticised as being too lenient.

One of the more high-profile cases involved Anthony Lyons, a businessman who sexually assaulted a young woman on Dublin’s Griffith Avenue. He served six months in jail after having most of his six-year prison term suspended last July by Mr Justice Desmond Hogan, who also ordered him to pay €75,000 to his victim.

Last October Graham Griffiths, who pleaded guilty to a violent sexual assault on a teenager, had a four-year sentence suspended in full by Mr Justice Martin Nolan on conditions, including that he pay his victim €15,000.

Money to victims

There was particular criticism of judges ordering sex offenders to pay money to their victims. “This is the second time in recent months that an Irish judge has put a price on a sexual crime,” the Children at Risk in Ireland agency said after Griffiths was sentenced.

There was also criticism after Gerard Kane last December had three of his 12-year sentence suspended on condition that he completed his Leaving Certificate. He repeatedly raped a woman during a burglary.

Previous cases where rapists have been spared jail have also drawn sharp criticism. In 2007 Mr Justice Paul Carney, who handed down the sentence in the Fiona Doyle case, gave Adam Keane a three-year suspended sentence after he was convicted of raping Mary Shannon. Mr Justice Carney said Keane had said the rape was out of character for him and that he came from a respectable home.

The case caused an outcry and the DPP sought a speedy hearing of an appeal. The Court of Criminal Appeal increased the sentence to 10 years with the last three suspended.

The court said Mr Justice Carney seemed to have “ignored” the aggravating factors, including the fact Keane illegally entered Ms Shannon’s home in Co Clare, raped her while she was asleep and left her so distressed she had left her home of nine years.

Lavinia Kerwick

In 1992 Lavinia Kerwick became the first woman to lift her anonymity in a rape trial after the perpetrator, William Conroy, had his sentencing by Mr Justice Feargus Flood adjourned for a year.

The Criminal Justice Act introduced the following year allowed for undue lenient sentences to be appealed and introduced victim impact statements. In July 1993 Conroy was given a nine-year suspended sentence.

Appeals: Stiffer sentences

A number of recent cases have been appealed where the sentence was considered lenient, including:

In July last year Gary Kinsella, who dragged a woman off a street and raped her, had a seven-year jail term increased to nine and a half years

In January last year Joseph Finnerty had a three-year sentence increased to four years for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl 11 years previously

In March 2011 Edwin Curry who repeatedly assaulted nine young girls over a 21-year period had his term more than doubled to 10 years