A NOTORIOUS rapist has failed in an appeal against his conviction for the rape of an 85-year-old woman, but has succeeded in having the last two years of his 21-year sentence suspended.
The Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday found that there had been an error in principle in the sentence imposed on Simon McGinley (37), who was jailed for 21 years by Mr Justice George Birmingham in July 2009 after he was convicted of rape by a Central Criminal Court jury.
McGinley, of Latlorcan Court, Monaghan, had pleaded not guilty to raping the then 85-year-old woman at her Co Monaghan home on June 16, 2008.
The court heard that McGinley subjected the woman to a rape lasting several hours, having knocked at her door at midnight and grabbing her by the arm when she answered.
He was previously sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1998 for raping a 13-year-old girl who was at the centre of the Supreme Court action on abortion known as the "C case".
Aileen Donnelly argued that Mr Justice Birmingham had placed no emphasis on rehabilitation when imposing sentence, despite the fact it was clear drink had been an issue in the case and it was in the public interest to deal with the impact alcohol had on such offences.
Mr Justice Liam McKechnie, sitting with Mr Justice Declan Budd and Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, said the court found that the trial judge had not offered sufficient scope for rehabilitation in the imposition of a 21-year sentence.
He said the appeal court had to be conscious of the opportunity for rehabilitation in every case, "no matter how bad".
Mr Justice McKechnie said that, "with a great deal of misgiving", the court had come to the conclusion that the last two years of the 21-year sentence should be suspended in the hope McGinley would reintegrate himself into society and reform his criminal behaviour.
Earlier in the day, the three-judge court determined that an appeal brought by McGinley against his conviction for rape was without substance.
Ms Donnelly had told the court that Mr Justice Birmingham made a "huge error" in failing to accede to a request by the defence to highlight inconsistencies between a deposition given by the victim and other evidence before the court, in particular evidence concerning the identity of the attacker and the timescale of the attack.
Counsel for the State, Tom O'Connell, told the court that although Mr Justice Birmingham did not explicitly tell the jury that if they believed the victim was correct in her evidence, McGinley could not be the rapist, this was the "self-evident" central issue in the case and the jury knew they had to find the victim incorrect in her testimony to find McGinley guilty.
Mr Justice McKechnie said the court had considered the entirety of the judge's charge and would dismiss the appeal, having found the applicant's contention that the jury were inadequately charged was not a "sustained" point.