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'The man who raped me went on to attack multiple women': Calls for harsher sentences for serial rapists

A new Bill to impose tougher sentencing passed First Stage in the Dáil earlier this afternoon.

A man who raped me went on to rape multiple women. I just thought – no, I have had enough. This can’t keep happening.

A WOMAN WHO was raped by a serial sex attacker has backed a Bill calling for longer prison sentences for repeat sex offenders.

Independent Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran introduced his Bill in the Dáil this afternoon.

It seeks to ensure that a convicted sex offender who has a previous conviction for either the same or another offence must serve at least three-quarters of the maximum sentence for that further offence.

At age 19, Debbie Cole was brutally raped by Robert Melia in a block of flats in Dublin in 1989. Melia served six years for the crime.

IMG_8372 Debbie Cole is calling for tougher sentences on repeat sex offenders.

However, upon his release from prison he went on to attack a number of other women, including a woman in a Dublin city centre hotel room, who was forced to escape by throwing herself from a first-floor window, reports The Mirror.

He was subsequently sent back to jail for eight years – but it is understood he also had three previous convictions for violent sexual assaults on three separate victims in 1997.

“I just thought, no, I have had enough. This can’t keep happening. Every time you think it is behind you, you turn on the TV and he is there, or you open up the paper and he is there, and you just think – no. Enough is enough. This has to end. He has rights, but what are my rights? Where are the rights of the survivors in this country not protected,” Cole told TheJournal.ie

Harsher sentencing

The mother of four has been campaigning for the introduction of a US-style “three strikes” rule, which would see those who repeatedly commit violent or sexual assaults receive a sentence of 25 years to life.

She said she has heard similar stories to her own over the years, but many women do not want to speak out.

I have had quite a few other women who have come forward – women who have been similar circumstances and don’t want to speak publicly and have said, ‘you are my voice’ or ‘this happened to my daughter, it happened to her’.
So, when you have a day where you think I can’t face this anymore them kind of messages give you the get up and go as you are not just doing it for you you are doing it for everyone.

Cole said she believes sentencing needs to be overhauled, stating that some judges appear to be numb to the pain of victims.

“I think, from my point of view, the message from the courts is that the rapist is going to get, in some cases, not even a slap on the hand. We had the case of Magnus Meyer Hustveit. He admitted he had raped his girlfriend and he was allowed to go free. That was just a kick in the face to that girl,” she said.

(In 2015, Magnus Meyer Hustveit was re-sentenced to 15 months in prison after his wholly suspended sentence for raping his girlfriend multiple times while she slept was found to be “unduly lenient” by the Court of Appeal.)

Survivors 

“The judges are becoming numb to the impact it is having on survivors. It is all about attacker, their rights, what are the mitigating facts – but what about the survivor? Their mitigating circumstances are that they are going to have to live with it for the rest of their life,” Cole said.

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Deputy Moran said his Bill addresses the category of offender “who creates most revulsion in society – that of the serial sex offender who ignores all rehabilitation efforts and remains a persistent public danger and menace to men, women and children in society”.

He said there are also other well-documented cases of serial sex offenders committing repeat offences in this country where the offenders have made no effort to change their ways but, in fact, appear to revel in the notoriety of their awful crimes.

“Serious sexual crimes not only impose huge psychological and physical trauma upon the victim but such offences also attack the unity and cohesion of society as a whole. It tears away the mutual protection that society offers to all its citizens,” he said.

“If we allow the perpetrators of such heinous crimes to continue unchecked, by going on to commit similar or other more serious crimes, without imposing longer sentences for subsequent offences, then society as a whole is diminished and devalued,” Moran said.

He said society must be protected from repeat offenders as their behaviour has a direct impact on public safety and the well-being of society as a whole”.

Moran and Cole recently met with the Minister for Justice to discuss the proposed new Bill. Moran said he hopes the Bill will be taken on as a Government Bill, as a Private Member’s Bill can take some time before being selected to go to the floor of the Dáil.

Cole said Fitzgerald very receptive to the idea.

“She seems to be really on board, so I don’t think it is going to be a problem from her point of view,” she said.

Read: Massive infighting among top gardaí over Templemore scandal>

Related: The Garda Commissioner, the head of HR and the ‘brief’ two-hour meeting in Templemore>

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