Court criticises 'unduly lenient' sentence of rapist
A RAPIST who left a court with a suspended prison sentence and shortly afterwards flicked a cigarette butt at his victim in a "triumphalist gesture" was yesterday jailed for seven years
The Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) imposed the seven-year sentence on Co Clare bricklayer Adam Keane for the rape of a woman while she slept.
Keane had originally received a three-year suspended sentence, though the suspension was later cancelled because of the cigarette butt incident.
The CCA, in increasing the jail term, said the original sentence was "unduly lenient" and the trial judge Paul Carney had erred in suspending it.
The DPP had appealed the sentence imposed on Keane (21), of Barnageeha, Daragh, Co Clare, for the rape of Mary Shannon (33), also from Daragh, while she slept in her home on May 30, 2005.
Keane, who always denied the charge, opposed the application.
The CCA yesterday imposed a new sentence of 10 years imprisonment, with the final three years suspended. Keane was also placed on the sex offenders' register.
Keane's victim, a mother-of-three, yesterday expressed her relief at the lengthening of her attacker's sentence.
In a statement issued on behalf on Ms Shannon, who has been severely deaf since childhood and who was in court with members of her family, she welcomed the court's decision.
She said that it had been "a long road" but now that Keane had been jailed for seven years, it had been "worthwhile".
She also said that she hoped the decision "would encourage other victims" to "seek justice".
Ms Shannon, who had waived her right to anonymity, also called on the Justice Minister Brian Lenihan to take steps "to rectify the serious flaws" in the legal system and ensure that in the future no person that is guilty of rape is allowed "walk free from the courts" again.
The statement added that no victim should ever have to go the lengths to get justice that she had been obliged to do.
Ms Shannon also thanked the media, gardai, her family and friends for all their support.
Keane's freedom under the suspended sentence he received last March was shortlived.
At a train station, following the court hearing, he saw Ms Shannon and flicked a cigarette butt either at her or in her direction.
There was an outcry over this and Mr Justice Carney had the case brought back before him last May when he cancelled the suspension element of his original sentence and ordered that he serve three years imprisonment.
The judge described Keane's behaviour as a "triumphalist gesture."
Yesterday at the three-judge CCA, Chief Justice John Murray said that the court was quite satisfied that the circumstances of the offence merited a custodial sentence.
It was aggravated by the fact that the victim was raped "in her own bed in her own home in close proximity to her children by someone who had illegally entered it during the early hours of the morning".
"Any idea that a man can trespass by stealth into a home at night and rape a woman, can be treated as other than an aggravated form of rape should be set at nought," the Chief Justice said.
"A crime of this nature," he added, "makes others feel unsafe.''
The victim had effectively been "driven" from her home and neighbourhood by Keane's actions, the judge said.
"All this seems to have been ignored by the trial judge [Mr Justice Carney]," said the Chief Justice. The CCA noted that when passing sentence, Mr Justice Carney had referred to the "NY" case.
This was a case where a man sentenced to four years in jail for raping a woman had the balance of his sentenced suspended by the CCA after serving just seven months in prison.
The CCA said it was satisfied that the facts and the circumstances of the this matter were not similar to the particular combination of facts which arose in the "NY" case.
It was satisfied that Mr Justice Carney "was wrong in treating them as somehow similar cases."
The Central Criminal Court had heard that Keane, who was the boyfriend of a friend and then close neighbour of Ms Shannon, was known to his victim. On the night in question Keane entered the house via an unlocked back door and went upstairs when Ms Shannon was in bed.