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Significant rise in number of rape cases in front of Irish courts

The vast majority of cases heard in Irish courts were related to road-traffic offences.

Image: Four Courts via Shutterstock

THE ANNUAL REPORT of Ireland’s Courts Service has revealed there was a significant decrease in the number of murder cases heard last year, but there was a jump in the incidence of rape trials.

During 2012, there were 20 per cent fewer murder trials when compared to the previous year but, when examined against 2010, the number of rape cases increased by 32 per cent.

According to the just-published data, there was a notable drop in “high visibility, high nuisance and highly-dangerous activity”. Almost 60 per cent of District Court summary matters were road-traffic related.

A total of 2,500 prison sentences were handed down in Circuit courts for more serious crimes.

Altogether, 693 criminal trials were heard in Irish courts, relating to 158,898 defendants and 384,231 alleged offences.

Other key figures show:

  • A 10 per cent decrease in minor drug offences;
  • A 22 per cent decrease in public order and less serious assaults;
  • A 22 per cent decrease in drink-driving orders;
  • A 30 per cent fall in juvenile crime.

In civil matters, there was a decrease of 37 per cent in the number of judicial reviews of asylum matters, as well as a 20 per cent fall in small claims.

There was €112 million awarded in personal injury and medical negligence cases in the High and Circuit Courts. The smallest award was €258, with the largest recorded at €11.5 million. That was the largest personal injury settlement in the history of the State and came on the 20 April. In approving the settlement of €11.5 million for 10-year-old Cullen Kennedy, Justice Mary Irvine expressed criticism at the lack of legislation to cater for the “life-long care needs” of crash victims.

The work of the courts

In the 12-month period, the Supreme Court received 605 appeals, a 21 per cent increase on 2011. It issued 114 judgements, an improvement of 56 per cent on the previous reported year.

Throughout the year, there was a 25 per cent jump in new pub licenses but a fall in the late-night extensions granted.

Chief Justice Susan Denham praised the courts service for running a “leaner” operation during 2012 as it delivered at a cost base 5.6 per cent less than in 2010. Since 2008, the cost of running the courts has been reduced by 41 per cent. In that time, wages have decreased by 15 per cent, admin costs by 38 per cent and capital funding by 80 per cent.

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