Saturday 20 October 2018

Lack of sentencing guidelines in rape cases 'bizarre', judge complains after horror trial

Leanne Murphy said she grew up feeling vulnerable after being repeatedly raped by her grandfather. Photo: Collins Courts
Leanne Murphy said she grew up feeling vulnerable after being repeatedly raped by her grandfather. Photo: Collins Courts

Declan Brennan

A judge has described the lack of sentencing guidelines in rape cases in this country as "somewhat bizarre".

Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh made her comments during the sentencing of a man convicted for the repeated rape of his granddaughter.

She imposed a five-year prison sentence on Christopher Redmond (74) after noting he has a profound cognitive impairment that is slowly worsening.

Redmond, of Rathvilly Drive, Finglas, Dublin, was convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of four counts of rape and five counts of sexual assault of Leanne Murphy on dates between January 2002 and May 2004.

The attacks all took place at the Tolka Valley pitch and putt club on Ballyboggan Road, Finglas, where Redmond worked.

The victim, now aged 23, was between seven and nine at the time and waived her right to anonymity so her abuser could be named. Ms Murphy went to gardaí in 2012. Redmond denied all the charges but was convicted after a trial last February.

Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh said the Supreme Court has said that rape offending should be punished with an immediate and substantial custodial sentence but that there was no information about sentencing in past cases. She noted "this may seem astonishing".

"One judge's substantial could be four years and another's could be 14 years. It's somewhat bizarre that an area that is so sensitive has so little in the way of guidance for a trial judge," she said.

The court heard the child would help her grandfather at the golf club. He promised her money for sweets and told her the abuse was their little secret.

Ms Murphy told that she felt excruciating pain during the rapes and described her "soul leaving my body each time".

She would ask Redmond to "stop, don't do it" but he would tell the child "everything was alright, everything would be ok".

The woman said she grew up feeling scared, confused and vulnerable. She began self harming at the age of ten.

"I thought he loved me. It took years to realise he brainwashed me," she said, adding that her parents trusted her grandfather. He betrayed them and they blame themselves.

"The trauma overshadowed the good childhood they [her parents] had worked to give me," she said.

Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh said Ms Murphy's statement was a searing depiction of the effects of violation of the physical and psychological integrity of a child. She told Ms Murphy she was a survivor and praised her courage. She told her neither she, her parents or siblings should take any responsibility for the abuse by Redmond.

The judge set a headline sentence of 15 years but reduced this to 10 years on the basis of an absence of previous offences and his age. She further reduced this to five years after considering his progressive cognitive impairments.

She said sentencing of rape offences was "highly unregulated" and this was a policy matter that had been much discussed.

Irish Independent

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