Gardai to review handling of multiple bail breaches by convicted rapist Eoin Berkley
GARDAI are to review the handling of convicted rapist Eoin Berkley's multiple bail breaches amid warnings he should never have been free on Dublin streets to commit the horrific rape of a young Spanish student.
The internal review will take place amid increasing demands for a wide-ranging overhaul of bail, sentencing and mental health regulations in light of the shock revelations in the Berkley (25) rape case.
It is the latest case to prompt demands from politicians and victims rights groups for an overhaul of the bail regime and its enforcement.
The demand came as it emerged the convicted rapist, who is now starting a 14 year term for the repeated rape and abduction of a Spanish student, should have been in custody over five different public order bail breaches when he attacked the young woman after luring her to waste ground from Dublin city centre.
Further, it also emerged that Berkley had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act just one month before at the instigation of a senior Garda who was worried both about his behaviour and Berkley's own safety.
However, Berkley was later deemed fit to be released by a doctor.
An internal Garda review will now focus on the handling of Berkley's multiple bail breaches and why action was not taken to enforce the strict conditions of his bail.
The review is set to be led by Cork-born Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy.
A Garda spokesperson stressed that the aim of the review will be "to establish the lessons to be learned and whether changes to procedures and processes are required."
A central element of the review will be communication between various Garda divisions and courts in respect of bail terms and conditions as well as between Garda divisions themselves.
The Irish Independent also understands that the circumstances in which Berkley was released on medical advice after having been detained under the Mental Health Act will also be reviewed.
This, however, is outside the remit of the Garda review.
Garda chiefs said it is policy not to comment on individual cases.
However, it was confirmed that any breach of duty in respect of monitoring and enforcing court-imposed bail conditions would potentially be an internal disciplinary matter.
The Garda Siochana Ombusman Commission (GSOC) has no role in the matter at the current time.
Sexual Violence Centre Cork (SVCC) warned that the level of rapes and sexual assaults across Ireland now warranted the introduction of mandatory sentencing.
"This is an exceptional case. But it is also very worrying because for multiple different reasons this person should never have been out walking the streets to commit this type of horrific crime," SVCC director Mary Crilly said.
Ms Crilly said the 14 year sentence was significant - but she said a mandatory five year prison term for rape should now be introduced in Ireland.
She warned that in the majority of cases of sexual violence there is never a conviction.
"With mandatory sentences, judges could then be free to add years on for aggravating factors like violence, lack of remorse etc,"
"The issue here is that this young man clearly stands out (as having personal issues). But the majority of rapists and those who commit sexual assaults look normal, fit in to society and appear no different to anyone else."
Over recent times, Berkley - who had been sleeping rough - walked around the city
centre carrying a fake Kalashnikov assault rifle.
On another occasion, he posed in the street to deliver a Nazi salute to photographers.
Multiple breaches of his bail terms were effectively ignored.
When sentenced to 14 years for the horrific rape of the Spanish student, Berkley began laughing in court.
Rape crisis groups have said the judiciary should note the exceptional 14 year prison term imposed by Mr Justice Michael White.
Rape Crisis Network Ireland official, Clíona Saidléar, said it was a strong signal that such sexual violence will not be tolerated in Ireland.
"It is a good strong signal from the judiciary around the seriousness with which this crime is being looked at," she said.
"This is an exceptional case. This will not be your average type of sexual violence case."
"In terms of the message it sends, this really is exceptional," she said.
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre director, Noeline Blackwell, warned that the most worrying aspect of the case was the fact Berkley's repeated bail breaches were known about but not acted upon.
"Nothing was done about it," she said.
"That is the real worry in all of this."
Ms Blackwell said it was clear that questions now arise over why specific bail orders were not enforced when it was apparent they were being flagrantly breached.
Both Labour and Fianna Fáil said serious issues arise over both bail and mental health sectioning enforcement from the case.
Berkley went into foster care when he was just four years old and he was institutionalised after a spate of unruly behaviour by the age of 14.
He had also spent time living homeless around Dublin.