Monday 16 September 2019

Man jailed for abusing young relatives refused extra time to appeal as victims 'entitled to closure'

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A Meath man jailed for abusing three young relatives has been refused extra time to appeal his sentence, with the Court of Appeal holding that victims were “entitled to closure”.

The 45-year old man, whose details cannot be published to protect the victims’ identities, was 16 when he raped his 13-year-old cousin in 1989 and in his twenties when he later abused his two nieces aged eight to 13.

He pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to representative counts of rape, sexual assault and anal rape on dates between 1989 and 2001.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the children were “preyed upon” over a significant period of time. He said the effects on the victims had been devastating but they appeared to be people of great resilience and determination. He gave the man consecutive sentences totalling 14 years on November 11, 2016.

The man was refused an extension of time to appeal against the severity of his sentence on Monday by the Court of Appeal.

His barrister, Roderick O’Hanlon SC, said his client had formed an intention to appeal within the required time of 28 days but that he was “overwhelmed” by the sentencing process and being in prison for the first time.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said the man’s application to extend time was lodged in March 2018, around 16 months late.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the interests of each of the three victims had to be considered.

They were “entitled to closure” and reopening the case way out of time would deny them the closure to which they are entitled. “There must come a time when victims are entitled to get on with their lives” and “put matters behind them”, the judge said.

They had been abused over a significant period of time - 13 years - and “much time has passed since the offending occurred”.

He said no discrete grounds of appeal had been identified apart from a “somewhat formulaic statement” that the sentence was severe and disproportionate.

He said the interest of justice was served by having regard to the public interest in finality and “maintaining closure” for victims.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Ms Justice Máire Whelan, refused the application.

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