Jail term of eight years for rape in woman’s flat cut to five

Court of Appeal said sentencing judge erred in placing offence too far on scale of seriousness

Hungarian national Tamas Vecernyes (29), with a last address in Cork, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape  on September 9th, 2009. The Court of Appeal reduced the  sentence to eight years with three suspended on Tuesday following an appeal. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Hungarian national Tamas Vecernyes (29), with a last address in Cork, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape on September 9th, 2009. The Court of Appeal reduced the sentence to eight years with three suspended on Tuesday following an appeal. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A man who raped a woman in her apartment after she invited him in for drinks with friends has had his eight-year jail term cut to five years on appeal.

Hungarian national Tamas Vecernyes (29), with a last address in Cork, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape at an apartment in the city on September 9th, 2009.

He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to 11 years in prison, with the final three suspended, by Mr Justice Paul Carney on November 26th, 2012.

The Court of Appeal reduced Vecernyes’s sentence to eight years with three suspended on Tuesday following an appeal.

The victim, a woman in her 20s, had invited Vecernyes into her apartment for drinks with other friends at about 2.30am on the morning in question.

After she went to bed at about 5.45am, he followed her upstairs and she awoke to find him on top of her.

No agreement

She told the jury at the trial she had not agreed to have sexual intercourse with him and that she had in fact been a virgin at the time.

Giving judgment on Vecernyes’s sentence appeal on Tuesday, Mr Justice John Edwards said the Court of Appeal was satisfied the sentencing judge erred in placing the offence too far along the scale of seriousness.

The court was satisfied the 11-year headline sentence was “unusual” and “out of kilter” with other rape offences without premeditation and without extra violence beyond the violence associated with every rape.

Even taking account of the aggravating factors - the fact of the rape having taken place in her own bedroom in her own home, and with advantage being taken of her vulnerable drunken state - the degree to which it was aggravated was not what would have been had it been committed during the course of a burglary, Mr Justice Edwards said.

Vecernyes’s barrister, Hugh Hartnett SC, submitted that the sentencing judge erred in assessing the gravity of the offence as being at the high end, erred in failing to take account of the fact that prison would be more difficult for him as a foreign national, erred in failing to take account of the fact he had no previous convictions and that the sentence was excessive compared to other cases.

Positive letter

Mr Justice Edwards said a very positive letter from prison authorities described Vecernyes as a model prisoner who was trying to better himself.

He had participated in raising money for charity while in prison.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Paul Butler, said the court would quash the original sentence and impose a headline figure of eight years.

In circumstances where he had been doing well in prison, the court decided not to interfere with the three-year suspension.