Criminal appeals life term for sex abuse
A notorious criminal has appealed against a life sentence for raping and sexually abusing a young girl over an eight-year period.
The Court of Criminal Appeal has reserved judgment in the case of convicted armed robber Christy Griffin. A feud stemming from a row among his former associates after Griffin was accused of the rape resulted in several shootings and deaths in inner-city Dublin.
Griffin (41) was jailed for life by Mr Justice Paul Carney in April 2007 after a Central Criminal Court jury found him guilty of one count of the oral rape of the victim in 1998, one count of rape in 2001 and nine counts of indecently assaulting her on dates between 1993 and 1998.
The victim, who was aged between eight and 16 when the abuse took place, consented to having Griffin named in media reports of the trial.
Griffin, with a last address at Ridgewood Green, Swords, Co Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He lost an appeal against his conviction in June 2009.
Counsel for Griffin, Michael O'Higgins, said that although this was a case of an "appalling nature", Mr Justice Paul Carney had erred "very substantially" in imposing a life sentence as "nowhere on the facts" outlined did it warrant such a term.
Mr O'Higgins said Mr Justice Carney erred in describing the list of 18 previous convictions amassed by Griffin as "horrendous" in circumstances where many of them were summarily dealt with in the District Court.
The court heard that Griffin had previously received nine- and three-year prison sentences in 1987 for robbery, and six years in 1986 for firearms offences, including possession of guns and ammunition. He also had convictions for larceny and road traffic offences.
Mr O'Higgins told the court that evidence went before the sentencing hearing of a number of serious incidents that occurred during the trial. He said these included the fatal shootings of Gerard Byrne in the Financial Services Centre on December 13, 2006, and of Stephen Ledden in his own house on Oriel Street, Dublin, on December 27, 2006.
He said it was clear some of the happenings outside of the trial were being visited upon Griffin and this amounted to an error in principle.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, sitting with Mr Justice Declan Budd and Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, said the court would reserve its judgment.