Man who twice raped schoolgirl at his sister’s 18th birthday party loses jail term appeal

Richard O’Mara (33) convicted and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment

A rapist who complained that the 12-year sentence he received for twice raping a teenage schoolgirl at his sister’s 18th birthday party was too long has failed in a bid to have his jail time reduced.

Richard O'Mara (33), of Walnut Avenue, Kingswood, Tallaght, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape at Ballymulcashel, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, on October 18, 2015.

But he was convicted of both counts by a jury at the Central Criminal Court following a trial in April 2019 and sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment with the final two years suspended by Ms Justice Tara Burns.

The first rape had taken place in field close to a house where the party was being held, and the second occurred in the house after the guests had left.

O’Mara was 27 at the time of the offences, while his victim was 10 years younger and was still at school.

He later launched an appeal against the length of his sentence after previously losing a bid to have the conviction quashed.

In a written judgment issued by the Court of Appeal, O’Mara’s appeal to have his sentence reduced has also been dismissed.

In the ruling, delivered by Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh, it was noted that the appellant “had, and has, very few mitigating factors” which could have resulted in a reduced sentence.

"There was no guilty plea and no remorse or apology and therefore he cannot benefit from anything in that line," observed Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh, who had heard O'Mara's sentence appeal in January along with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, presiding, and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy.

Describing O’Mara as “a perfectly ordinary person” who does not appear to have suffered any adversity in life apart from a heart condition, the judge stated that the appellant appeared to have led a blameless until the night in question and “for that he is of course entitled to some credit”.

Circumstances

But she added that Ms Justice Burns had already taken these circumstances into account when she suspended two years of the sentence she originally handed down.

The “real question”, the judge continued, was whether the headline sentences identified by the judge for both rapes had been “unduly high”.

“We are of the view that while they would be at the outer limit of what was within the sentencing judge’s discretion in this case, they do not go beyond that and should be upheld,” Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh stated in the judgement which was published on Tuesday March 22nd.

“In all of the circumstances we propose to uphold the sentence and dismiss the appeal against severity.”

In January, O’Mara’s barrister Michael Delaney SC told the Court of Appeal that the custodial term handed down to his client by Ms Justice Burns had been “very severe”.

Mitigating factors

Mr Delaney also took exception to the trial judge's claim that there had been almost no mitigating factors in the case.

He said his client had been of previous good character, and was without previous convictions, when he came before the court and had therefore been entitled to greater reduction in his sentence.

Maurice Coffey SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the State's position was there had been no error in sentencing.

“There are elements to this case which are quite disturbing,” he continued.

The victim, Mr Coffey said, had been left with injuries following the assaults.

“She was left in a very distressed state, and essentially she was raped again,” he added.

Mr Coffey said the appellant was “significantly older” than his victim, whom he had “lured” under false pretences out of the house “to do what he wanted to her”.

This, he said, meant there was an element pre-meditation to the first rape.

Counsel also said the girl had also been subjected to violence and humiliation when the appellant pushed her down on to the ground in the field before raping her.

A sentence of greater than 10 years was clearly justified when all the fact of the case were considered, Mr Coffey said.

Family home

During O'Mara's trial, Garda David Lang told Mr Coffey, prosecuting, the victim had been a guest at a party at O'Mara's family home when she was raped.

Gda Lang said she had been talking to O’Mara before he led her by the hand outside and into a field where he pushed her down to the ground.

He held her down, took off her trousers and underwear and raped her. The victim was crying and shaking her head throughout and O’Mara whispered in her ear “I know you want it.”

Afterwards he told her not to tell anyone what had happened and they went back to the house to discover that most people had left and he said he could not order a taxi for her. She lay down on a couch in the living room and began crying.

O’Mara entered the room and sat down on the couch. He forced her head into the pillow, pulled her hair and told her to shut up. He then pulled off her jeans and underwear and raped her again, falling asleep after he was finished.

The following morning he ordered a taxi for her and again told her not to tell anyone what had happened.

The court was told the victim was in her final year in secondary school at the time of the offences.

Gda Lang agreed with Mr Delaney, defending, that O’Mara was now married and has two children, but has no contact with one child.

Mr Delaney said that his client had a stent implanted in his heart in 2017 and that he requires regular monitoring.

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