DPP to appeal court sentence on sleep rapist
Suspended sentence sparked anger
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is to appeal the seven-year suspended sentence of Norwegian man Magnus Meyer Hustveit, who was convicted on July 13 of raping his then-partner while she slept.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, the victim, Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill, said she had been informed legal papers were lodged on Friday, on the grounds that the sentence was "unduly lenient".
Meyer Hustveit pleaded guilty to one count of rape, one of sexual assault and the disclosure that it had happened on multiple occasions. The prosecution case focused on emails written to Ms Ni Dhomhnaill in which he confessed that he had used her "body for my gratification".
The case caused a public outcry after Ms Ni Dhomhnaill waived her right to anonymity to criticise the sentence and how she felt she had been treated by the criminal justice system. Two online petitions were circulated, with one gathering 67,400 signatures in support of her call for an appeal, while victims' organisations also criticised the sentence, fearing it would deter others coming forward to report crimes.
Speaking two weeks ago, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre director Ellen O'Malley Dunlop said: "What message does this case send to people raped by intimate partners or raped while unconscious: don't report; don't prosecute? What signal does it send about appropriate punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence in Ireland?"
Ms Ni Dhomhnaill said yesterday that she was "still processing" the decision. "While I'm encouraged, it is still daunting because I've been through this for three years, I had a year of an abusive relationship, three years of a legal process and now I am facing an as yet undetermined amount of time on an appeal hearing," she said.
"I guess I feel that the sentencing was illogical, and it is encouraging that the DPP has recognised that, and the hope is that this will have an impact for other people coming through the process - for me that is the most important thing. I would hope that those who have been facing their own issues, or were discouraged by this sentencing, see that in the face of poor decisions or disheartening judgements that there is recourse."
Prior to sentencing, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said it was "a very exceptional case", before adding: "In truth this case comes here today out of his own mouth."
Asked what outcome she would hope for, Ms Ni Dhomhnaill said: "Whatever happens to him happens, but I don't make him my priority any more, I am concentrating on putting my own life back together." The appeal is unlikely to be heard this year.