Tuesday 17 October 2017

Rapist who lured two girls from party loses his appeal

File photo: The man is accompanied by gardai
File photo: The man is accompanied by gardai

Ruaidhri Giblin

A man who lured two girls away from a children's birthday party and told them he would cut their parents' throats before repeatedly raping them has had an appeal against his sentence dismissed.

The 32-year-old man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to raping the girls, aged nine and six, in a flat in Athlone on September 28, 2013.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr Justice Paul Carney on March 3, 2014.

The man moved to appeal his sentence last month on grounds that it was excessive in all circumstances. His barrister, Sean Gillane SC, acknowledged at the outset that there were certain "nightmarish aspects" about this case involving violations of an unspeakable kind of the personal and bodily integrity of two children.

Mr Gillane said certain aspects of the man's "assistance" should have merited a different approach by the trial judge.

On foot of advice he received from his solicitor, he made full admissions and indicated how the case would be approached before he left the Garda station, Mr Gillane said.

It was indicated that there would be no requests for medical notes or disclosure and no requests even for disclosure of the tapes of interview of the two victims "which in my experience was unique", Mr Gillane said.

His solicitor then indicated, in that early remand period, that there would be a willingness and desire not to receive a book of evidence and to be sent forward on a signed plea of guilty.

Mr Justice Birmingham remarked that the man's solicitor, Gearoid Geraghty, did a splendid job. "The fact there's room for debate is entirely due to the quality of the legal advice he gave."

Giving judgment yesterday, Mr Justice George Birmingham said that the facts of the case were "almost too horrible to recount".

Mr Justice Birmingham said the court had concluded that the facts of the case were such that they could truly be said to be exceptional.

He said the abduction of two very young girls and their rape in the manner described meant these offences were exceptional.

The court could not conclude that the sentencing judge had erred in imposing discretionary life sentences, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

Accordingly, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, dismissed the appeal.

In his submission during the appeal hearing, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Patrick McGrath SC, said the man was submitting that, because the offence was a single set of "transactions", it somehow put it in a different category.

There were no authorities to support the proposition that there had to be a long-running campaign of abuse for a court to conclude that a life sentence was justified, Mr McGrath said.

It was difficult to conceive of a more horrific set of circumstances, he said. The girls were "lured" from a place of safety and the acts themselves were horrific. The fact that there was no relationship between him and the victims should not in any way enure to his benefit, Mr McGrath said.

The fact a stranger was capable of emerging out of nowhere to commit this offence was as bad, if not worse, than abuse being carried out within a family, he added.

Mr McGrath said the net point was whether an offence or collection of offences carried out in one afternoon was capable of justifying a life sentence. "The answer must be yes".

He asked whether the facts of this case were of a kind that would allow a trial judge to reach that conclusion, and he immediately said "yes".

Irish Independent

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