A LEADING DOMESTIC violence charity has said it will accept a donation from a trainee doctor who was brought to court for beating up his girlfriend, despite calls for it to turn the money down.
A judge at the Dublin District Court said 21-year-old medical student Rudrumun Gopal could walk free from court with no criminal record if he agreed to make a €5,000 donation to both the Simon Community and Women’s Aid after admitting two charges of seriously assaulting his girlfriend.
The case yesterday was one of several recent ones which have highlighted the issue of sentencing in Irish courts and whether defendants should be allowed to escape sanction if they pay a monetary amount.
There had been calls for Women’s Aid to refuse to accept the forced donation from the medical student in protest at the fact the donation was the only punishment ordered by the court.
However, Women’s Aid said this afternoon that the money will be used to set up a new legal fund to help women.
The organisation said while it has received court-ordered donations in the past, it has not always been possible to know the circumstances leading up to the sanction. A spokesperson said it is hoping to use the money to help change what happens in some court cases.
“We hope that the public outcry created by recent sentencing will be heard in the legal system,” Margaret Martin of Women’s Aid told TheJournal.ie.
“A long-term goal of Women’s Aid has been to work more closely with the judiciary to deliver training on domestic abuse, which is common in other jurisdictions such as the US”.
“Better understanding of the issue coupled with strong sentencing guidelines can help women feel safer in accessing the legal system and provide for better outcomes”.
Women’s Aid said the money will be used to cover legal aid fees where women are unable to pay themselves.
The Simon Community has said it will also be accepting the donation.
“Dublin Simon Community accept court mandated donations and do not comment on individual cases,” a spokesperson said.
The donation will be used to “support people who rely on our services, enabling us to provide accommodation, counselling, outreach [and] other critical supports to those who are homeless or at risk at a time when funding is reducing and the numbers of people becoming homeless is growing,” she said.