Thursday 18 January 2018

Pressure on DPP to appeal leniency of rapist's sentence

Victim's call backed by mounting public outrage

Magnus Meyer Hustveit admitted the rapes
Magnus Meyer Hustveit admitted the rapes
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Pressure is mounting on the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to appeal the seven-year suspended sentence handed down last week to a Norwegian man who repeatedly raped his girlfriend in her sleep.

Amid mounting public disquiet over the leniency of the punishment that was meted out to Magnus Meyer Hustveit, his victim, Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill, said yesterday she hopes the DPP will appeal his sentence.

An online petition signed by more than 1,600 people backed Ms Ni Dhomhnaill's call last night.

Ms Ni Dhomhnaill told the Sunday Independent yesterday an appeal was "important" to encourage other victims of sex crimes to report their attackers.

She said: "I hope the DPP will appeal the sentence, not just on my behalf, but on behalf of anyone who has been affected by this.

"I have yet to hear from the DPP and I would welcome contact from that office to let me know what they intend to do. I think appealing the case would be an important move so that people will feel confident to report these types of crimes in future."

The decision to appeal rests with the DPP, who has 28 days to ask the Court of Criminal Appeal to review the sentence.

The office of the DPP is independent and cannot be lobbied. Only victims of a crime, or the accused person, and their families are entitled to ask the DPP to review the leniency or severity of sentences.

The Rape Crisis Network has joined calls for the sentence to be appealed.

Last night, Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said: "What message does this case send to people raped by intimate partners or raped while unconscious: don't report; don't prosecute? What signal does it send about appropriate punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence in Ireland?

"What message does the suspended sentence send to would-be perpetrators?"

Around 1,600 supporters signed an online petition on the website, set up in the wake of Hustveit's sentencing last week.

Magnus Meyer Hustveit admitted and pleaded guilty to raping Ms Ni Dhomhnaill, then his girlfriend, while she was asleep. He had admitted the attacks on her in emails. Ms Ni Dhomhnaill gave them to gardai, who launched a criminal investigation.

This appeared to be a factor in the seven-year suspended sentence handed down on Tuesday.

She wrote in the Independent yesterday: "In the end, that the very evidence that made it possible to bring Magnus and his crimes to court seemed to also exonerate him of any significant punitive consequences was undeniably beyond comprehension.

"Nonetheless, this was the outcome, and Magnus was able to return, as was disclosed to the court, to his job, his recent fiancee, her two young children, and all of the things he enjoys about having his freedom."

The national 24-hour helpline for victims of sexual violence is 1800 778888.

Sunday Independent

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