Monday 14 October 2019

Former army officer refused extra time to appeal 11 year sentence for grooming and abusing two teenage boys

Central Criminal Court, Dublin. (stock photo)
Central Criminal Court, Dublin. (stock photo)

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A former army officer who groomed and sexually abused two teenage boys during the 1990s has been refused extra time to appeal his 11-year sentence.

Timothy O'Sullivan (67) of Marlborough Road, in Dublin pleaded guilty to sexual assault as well as oral and anal rape of two boys on dates between 1991 and 1996 at locations in Dublin.

The Central Criminal Court heard that O'Sullivan was in his forties at the time while the boys were aged between 13 and 16 years old. He subjected the two boys to abuse and threatened them they would be shot or buried in the mountains.

Sentencing O’Sullivan to five years and six years consecutively, Mr Justice Tony Hunt commended the bravery of the two victims in coming forward and noted their “courageous” victim impact statements.

“I will carry this with me for the rest of my life and will never forgive him,” wrote one of the men.

In mitigation, the court was told that O'Sullivan had grown up in West Cork and joined the army as a cadet where he was an officer for twenty years. His previous lawyers said O'Sullivan had served with distinction and had been on one of the first tours of Lebanon.

His barrister told the court that O'Sullivan was very ashamed for what he had done and the hurt he had caused.

O’Sullivan was refused an extension of time to appeal the severity of his sentence today. He lodged an appeal approximately 13 weeks late.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said O’Sullivan was advised in the aftermath of his sentence hearing that an appeal was unlikely to succeed.

Despite that advice, and despite the fact his sentence was “very much in line” with what was to be expected, he said O’Sullivan came to the conclusion that he wished to appeal.

In any criminal case, Mr Justice Birmingham said there was a public interest in “finality being achieved”. That objective was “particularly acute” for sexual offences where out-of-time appeals were potentially damaging for victims.

He said the courts were presented with victim impact statements on a daily basis which showed how “victims find engaging with the criminal justice system very difficult and traumatic”. Victims were entitled to put proceedings behind them and get on with their lives, the judge added.

Mr Justice Birmingham said no information had been put before the court to suggest an appeal had any real prospect of succeeding. Given the aggravating factors, he said O’Sullivan’s sentence was as likely to be increased as it was likely to be decreased.

In the Court of Appeal’s assessment of the limited information before the court, he said there was little prospect of a successful appeal and the interests of justice would not be served by extending time.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, refused the application.

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