Sentence of man who raped wife’s sister ‘unduly lenient’, court finds

Court of Appeal dismisses application against conviction due to gravity of offences

The Court of Appeal has found that a man’s suspended  sentence  for raping and indecently assaulting his wife’s teenage sister was ‘unduly lenient’. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Court of Appeal has found that a man’s suspended sentence for raping and indecently assaulting his wife’s teenage sister was ‘unduly lenient’. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Court of Appeal has found that a wholly suspended seven year sentence imposed on a man for raping and indecently assaulting his wife’s teenage sister was “unduly lenient”.

The 53-year-old man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault committed against his wife’s sister on dates between 1985 and 1986.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court had found the man guilty on all counts and he was given a wholly suspended seven year sentence by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on June 7th, 2013.

In suspending the entire seven year sentence, Mr Justice Sheehan had said the man’s family needed support and care. Two of the man’s young sons have autism and require 24-hour care.

Appeal dismissed

The Court of Appeal today dismissed his appeal against conviction and agreed with a subsequent appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that his sentence was “unduly lenient”.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the man had been married to the complainant’s elder sister. The man was 25 at the time of the offences and the complainant, who used to babysit for him, was 13-years-old.

Mr Justice Ryan said the offences were perpetrated in the box room bedroom of the home on occasions when the complainant was staying over in the house and the man had come home from socialising with his wife.

The complainant had given evidence that in 1986 she had explained to her sister that she could no longer babysit for the man for reasons she didn’t want to go into. That evidence was confirmed at trial by the sister.

Court satisfied

Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court was satisfied that the conviction was safe and the trial was satisfactory. As a result, the court dismissed the appeal against conviction.

Later, Mr Justice Ryan said the court was satisfied that the DPP’s application to establish that the man’s sentence was too lenient succeeded.

Mary Rose Gearty SC, for the DPP, submitted that the sentence did not reflect the gravity of the case, including the number of offences, the age of the victim and the impact on her.

Ms Gearty further submitted that the trial judge inappropriately referred to the man’s rehabilitation in sentencing despite there being “no acceptance of guilt, no remorse [and] nothing of that nature”.

Ms Gearty said the man’s family situation did not justify a wholly suspended sentence because he was not their primary carer.

The court reserved judgment on sentencing until March 19th.