Sunday 16 June 2019

Calls for review after man who raped and threatened to kill wife has sentence cut

The judge threw out McDonagh’s claim which meant the six other claims collapsed with it and were dismissed
The judge threw out McDonagh’s claim which meant the six other claims collapsed with it and were dismissed
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A rape crisis organisation has called for a review of sentencing in marital sexual violence cases following a Court of Appeal decision to reduce the sentence of a husband who raped and threatened to kill his wife and cut off her face.

The court reduced the man’s sentence from 12 years, with the final two suspended, to ten years, with the final 18 months suspended – effectively cutting his custodial term by a year and a half.

The man was convicted of rape, assault causing serious bodily harm, threats to kill, assault causing serious harm to his wife and also assault causing serious harm to his wife's mother.

A sentence for assault causing serious harm was left unchanged at seven and a half years.

The assaults on the wife and the mother-in-law took place around the same time as the rape.

The appeal, decided on Monday, was against a sentence handed down by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy in 2016.

Responding to the ruling, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) called for an urgent review of the law relating to marital and intimate partner rape.

“While the Court of Appeal recognised the serious nature of the rape, they took the view that it should be viewed in isolation from all the other assaults and threats by the woman's husband in the same period,” said DRCC chief executive Noeline Blackwell.

“This is a matter of great concern to us. Intimate violence is not just one action to be viewed alone. In marital rape, it should be viewed in the context of the overall violence.

“Over a short period, this woman's husband threatened to kill her, to cut off her face. “Her car was rammed by him, he denied her permission to remove their young son from the house.

“He put her and her mother and her family in total terror. He hit them with a hammer. This was the reality for this woman who was raped, threatened and terrified in her own house and in her parents' home."

Ms Blackwell said if the courts were now looking at rapes in isolation, without looking at the context of the marriage or the breach of trust or the children involved, the Government or the Oireachtas must step in to ensure sentences are realistic and recognise the gravity of marital sexual violence.

“Sentencing in criminal cases is supposed to punish the perpetrator, protect society and allow for rehabilitation. This case, treating a rape within a marriage just as any other rape, does not protect society in the place where members of society are extremely vulnerable,” she said.

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