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Saturday 20 September 2014

New victim impact guidelines to be launched

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

Published 06/07/2013 | 05:00

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GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Claire Loftus, are to launch new guidelines on victim impact statements.

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The guidelines, 'Making a Victim Impact Statement,' have the full backing of Justice Minister Alan Shatter, the judiciary and the Courts Service.

Seven years ago, the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that grieving relatives who do not adhere to strict conditions when reading aloud a victim impact statement in the aftermath of a trial may face jail for contempt of court.

The CCA also stated that sentences for murder and other serious crimes, including rape, may be reduced if victims or their family members launch "unfounded or scurrilous" accusations against an accused.

The Victims of Crime Office, the Probation Service as well as representatives of various victim support organisations will be present at the launch of the guidelines on Monday.

Gardai say that the guidelines will stress the important place that victims have within the criminal justice system and the continuing efforts to ensure their needs are met.

ESSENTIAL

The 2006 warning by the CCA was issued as the court rejected an appeal by the DPP against the four-year manslaughter sentence given to Wayne O'Donoghue for the killing of his neighbour Robert Holohan (11).

The court, which did not take into account Majella Holohan's victim impact statement and the adverse publicity it generated about her son's killer, said that it was "essential" to circumscribe the making of a victim impact statement.

Irish Independent

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