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Judge who jailed grandfather for rape calls sentencing guidelines 'somewhat bizarre'

“It’s somewhat bizarre that an area that is so sensitive has so little in the way of guidance for a trial judge.”

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A JUDGE HAS described the lack of sentencing guidelines in rape cases in Ireland as “somewhat bizarre”.

Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh made her comments during the sentencing of a man convicted for the repeated rape of his granddaughter.

She imposed a five-year prison sentence on Christopher Redmond (74) after noting he has a profound cognitive impairment that is slowly worsening.

Redmond of Rathvilly Drive, Finglas, Dublin was convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of four counts of rape and five counts of sexual assault of Leanne Murphy on dates between January 2002 and May 2004.

The attacks all took place at the Tolka Valley pitch and putt club on Ballyboggan Road, Finglas, where Redmond worked. The victim, now aged 23, was between seven and nine at the time and had waived her right to anonymity so her abuser could be named.

She went to the Gardaí in 2012. Redmond denied all the charges but was convicted after a trial last February.

Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh set a headline sentence of 15 years but reduced this to ten years on the basis of an absence of previous offences and his age.

She further reduced this to five years after considering his progressive cognitive impairments. The impairment does not go back to the time of offending or his time of arrest.

Redmond was assessed by a consultant forensic psychiatrist from the Central Mental Hospital who concluded it was unlikely he was pretending. He concluded that the cognitive decline could leave Redmond vulnerable to other prisoners.

She said the Supreme Court has said that rape offending should be punished with an immediate and substantial custodial sentence but that there was no information about sentencing in past cases. She noted “this may seem astonishing”.

She said while there was a lot of authority as to general sentencing principles there was very little in the way of actual figures.

One judge’s substantial could be four years and another’s could be 14 years. It’s somewhat bizarre that an area that is so sensitive has so little in the way of guidance for a trial judge.

She said that sentencing of rape offences was “highly unregulated” and this was a policy matter that had been much discussed. She said it was remarkable that nothing was said or given to a judge in these cases in way of figures and that the current case was typical in this regard.

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Declan Brennan

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