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Monday 21 April 2014

Rapist described as "serious threat to women" granted bail

A rapist who was described as a “serious threat to the women of Cork” has been granted bail pending an appeal against the reactivation of the suspended portion of his 18-year sentence.

Last February John English (36) was sent back to jail for five years for not complying with the conditions of his release from prison on an 18-year sentence for the rape of an Australian woman he had met in a bar in Cork City.

In 2004 he was sentenced to 18 years, with five years suspended, after pleading guilty to raping the Australian tourist in November 2002. English has previous convictions for sexual assault, false imprisonment and assault causing harm dating back to 1993.

He was described by Mr Justice Barry White at the time as “a danger and a menace to society” and “a serious threat to the women of Cork”.  Judge White suspended five years of the sentence on condition that English comply with all recommendations made by the Probation Services, who directed that he abstain from alcohol.

After English was released in September 2012, he was spotted drinking and the case was re-entered in the Central Criminal Court to have the five-year jail term activated.

He appeared in court on November 19 and promised to stay off alcohol if the case was adjourned to give him another chance. That evening he was seen by gardai drinking openly with his father in a Cork pub.

He was ordered to appear again in court but failed to turn up. He was arrested two weeks later in Dublin by chance when gardai found him in a drunken state.

At the sentence reactivation hearing in February, oral evidence was given that an assessment of English was carried out before he left prison which found him at a high risk of reoffending, particularly if he drank, and that he should stay off alcohol, which was judged to be the main trigger for his sexual offending.

Mr Justice Barry White said he had no option but to jail English for the full five years and noted that any undertaking given by the accused to the court was “of little, if any value”.

Counsel for English, Mr Dominic McGinn SC, today (Thursday) told the Court of Criminal Appeal that the obligation for English to abide by all recommendations of the probation service was placed on him for five years from June 28, 2004 - the date of his sentence - and not the date of his release from prison in September 2012.

He said this was the only bond entered in to by English and had expired before he left prison.

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, presiding at the Court of Criminal Appeal, said this “elegant and narrow” point, which was an unusual structural matter concerning the constitution of a court order, appeared to be arguable.

He said the court considered that Mr McGinn had raised a substantial point, albeit “an entirely technical one”, which allowed English to surmount the hurdles by way of getting bail pending an appeal.

As any release on bail would also have to be under terms and conditions, Mr Justice Hardiman said the court itself would take the bond.

Mr Justice Hardiman said the court would grant bail on condition that English abstain from alcoholic drink until his appeal is disposed of, and that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Asked by Mr Justice Hardiman if he acknowledged himself so bound, English replied: “Absolutely judge.”

Counsel for the State, Ms Anne Rowland BL, said that a number of other conditions should be imposed.

She said that English should reside at Springlane, Blackpool, sign on daily at Mayfield Garda Station and give up his passport.

Mr Justice Hardiman said bail would be granted on the condition that English sign on at Mayfield Garda Station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

He said the court would list the case for mention on February 12 next year.

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