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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 21 October, 2014

Judges ‘need guidelines’ for sexual assault sentencing

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said today that giving a man found guilty of sexual assault a fine and a suspended sentence “doesn’t give out a good message”.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THERE SHOULD BE guidelines for judges when it comes to sentencing for sexual assault, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said today.

Its chief executive, Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, said that the DRCC believes that judges need guidelines when sentencing following two recent cases where men received suspended or partly suspended sentences and were ordered to pay the victim compensation.

O’Malley-Dunlop said that “a lot of people are calling the 24-hour helpline very upset” by yesterday’s sentencing of a 29-year-old man for a sexual attack on a 17-year-old girl.

He pleaded guilty and the Irish Times reports that Judge Martin Nolan imposed a four-year sentence which was suspended in full on a number of conditions, including that he pay €15,000 to his victim within one year.

“What we would say is that it certainly doesn’t give out a good message that justice has been delivered,” said O’Malley-Dunlop. She said that the perpetrator will not go on the sex offender list, and:

If he were sentenced to prison, at least he would have rehabilitation available to him, because of rehab programmes available in prison. Prison is not just about punishment, it is also about rehabilitation.

The DRCC chief said that the sentence was “very worrying” and that the teenage victim “really exhibited amazing courage in following through with the criminal justice system”.

O’Malley-Dunlop said that it is important that judges have guidelines on sentencing sexual assault cases, and that the DRCC is calling for these. “It would really be helpful to avoid this sort of [situation],” she concluded.

Sentencing

Meanwhile, a report from Coyne Research says that 69 per cent of the adults surveyed rate the Irish judiciary ‘poorly’ on sentencing. The research was conducted in August.  The highest negative ratings were recording amongst men (74 per cent rating poorly) and those aged 55 + (75 per cent rating poorly).

The Dublin Rape Crisis 24-hour helpline number is 1800 778888.

Read: Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcomes appeal of Anthony Lyons sentence>

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