Monday 11 December 2017

Judge criticises DPP for accepting plea to attempted rape

Mr Justice Barry White
Mr Justice Barry White

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Jessica Magee

A judge has strongly criticised the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for accepting a plea to attempted rape which he said was unsupported and “irreconcilable” with evidence put before the jury.

Mr Justice Barry White was speaking as he imposed a non-custodial sentence on a 27-year-old Dublin man for the attempted rape of a female acquaintance.

The man, who has an intellectual difficulty, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the attempted rape of the now 27-year-old woman in Dublin on June 30, 2012.

The Dublin man had originally been charged with rape and anal rape.

However he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence after his defence team proposed an alternative indictment, following legal argument during his trial. The original charges were dropped.

Gerard Clarke SC, prosecuting, said the DPP had accepted a plea to attempted rape.

Mr Justice White sentenced Freeman to five years in prison but suspended it fully for five years and imposed a bond of €500.

The judge strongly criticised the DPP for accepting the plea of attempted rape, which he said was “irreconcilable and inconsistent” with the evidence placed before the jury.

“The decision taken by the DPP has placed the courts in an invidious position. I cannot agree with the DPP or with her rationale. She has not identified the conduct which constitutes attempted rape,” he said.

The judge said he had been obliged to “take a lenient view” of the offending behaviour in the absence of any detail, although he noted that the offence had had a “profound adverse affect” on the victim.

Mr Clarke said the victim still suffers the psychological effects of the incident, and that the DPP took the view that this case is on “the middle of the scale of seriousness”.

Garda Grainne Callan told the court that the woman had been at a nightclub before going back to Freeman’s house with two other friends.

They all lay down on the same bed about 5am, but soon after Freeman asked the two friends to go to another room.

The victim later told gardaí that she had been sleeping but “became aware that something was happening to her”.

Her friends came back into the room when she made noise and took her to hospital to be examined.

Mr Justice White said it was not clear to him as to what precisely Freeman was said to have done which would constitute attempted rape.

He said the aggravating circumstances were that Freeman took advantage of the victim and that there had been an “element of planning” as he told her two friends to leave the bedroom.

He said the mitigating factors include Freeman’s intellectual disability and the fact that he has no previous convictions.

Freeman has been placed on the sex offenders register.

The garda agreed with Paul Greene SC, defending, that his client had pleaded “promptly” to the alternative charge once it had been accepted by the DPP.

Mr Greene had submitted to Mr Justice White that a custodial sentence would be challenging for Freeman as he has “obsessive and ritualistic behavioural patterns” and suffers bullying.

Irish Independent

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