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Student's horror rape ordeal 'shows gardai must apply bail laws'

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Rapist Eoin Berkley, who was jailed for 14 years for his crimes

Rapist Eoin Berkley, who was jailed for 14 years for his crimes

Rapist Eoin Berkley, who was jailed for 14 years for his crimes

A rape support expert and Fine Gael candidate has called for bail laws to be properly applied to prevent serious crimes.

Ellen O'Malley Dunlop's call came in the wake of the trial of Eoin Berkley, who held a teenage Spanish student captive and repeatedly raped her.

Ms O'Malley Dunlop, the former chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), said the case was "unacceptable" and "terribly sad".

It emerged that Berkley (25) was awaiting trial for another offence and breached his bail conditions at least five times before the horrific rape.

Warnings

Gardai have ordered a review into the handling of the multiple bail breaches by Berkley, amid an outcry over him being free to commit the rape.

Ms O'Malley Dunlop said yesterday that she came across similar incidents when she was in charge of the DRCC, and recalled in particular the case of Manuela Riedo, the Swiss teenager who was raped and murdered in 2007.

"Manuela Riedo sticks out in my mind around that time," she said.

"It was a violent case in Galway and the perpetrator of that crime was on bail at the time.

"I do think that the guards certainly have a lot to do in terms of applying the bail laws. They have the power to do that."

She welcomed the internal garda review of the Berkley case which is being led by Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy, saying: "I hope it can prevent other crimes being committed by people out on bail."

In an interview on RTE radio, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was asked about the Berkley case. He said it was a "particularly dreadful" case and added: "I hope that the victim in time will recover from what was a dreadful, traumatic and personal experience perpetrated on her in what was a shocking crime."

Mr Flanagan was also asked if an internal garda review of the Berkley case is good enough.

He replied that the inquiry should be allowed take its course.

He explained that it will have to look at whether the law is adequate and if the procedures and the protocols were "sufficiently robust as far as gardai were concerned".

Mr Flanagan added that the Government moved to strengthen the law last year "introducing a wide range of pretty stringent conditions that may be attached".

However, he said, someone on bail has yet to be convicted of a crime and they are "entitled to liberty... entitled to a presumption of innocence".

Accelerated

The minister added that it is "open to the court to refuse bail in given circumstances" and pointed out that the courts operate independently.

Meanwhile, Ms O'Malley Dunlop - an FG candidate in Dublin South-West - also called for the process of compiling a second Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) survey to be "accelerated".

The first one was published in 2002 and the Government plans to conduct another SAVI study soon.

Ms O'Malley Dunlop said that Ireland has "changed hugely since 2002" and pointed to the rise of social media and the dangers it brings, including the online grooming of potential victims.

She said a new report is needed "so as we can properly inform policy going forward".


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