A Clare man who sexually assaulted his younger cousin over a three year period and raped her has had his six year jail term reduced to four by the Court of Appeal.
The 27-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect the victim’s identity, pleaded guilty to one count of rape, four counts of sexual assault and four counts of oral rape on dates between 2003 and 2005.
He was sentenced to nine years imprisonment, with the final three years suspended ,by Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court on June 4 2013.
The Court of Appeal agreed on Tuesday with the man’s barrister, Paul Greene SC, that the sentencing judge took too severe a view of the man’s offending. Consequently the court imposed a new sentence on him of seven years imprisonment with the final three suspended.
Mr Justice John Edwards said offences of this type were heinous and there were a considerable number of them in this case. He said it was abuse of a younger cousin by an older cousin. There was a five-and-a-half year age difference between them.
On any view it was a serious case, the judge said, and the unfortunate victim had been profoundly affected by what had happened to her.
He said the pattern of offending, which culminated in the charges, actually commenced “in some period prior, perhaps going back to 1999” when the accused would have been 12 and his cousin only six years of age.
Mr Justice Edwards said the offending began with inappropriate behaviour in primary school. It progressed to touching in inappropriate places and onto him taking out his penis and insisting she touch it.
There were a number of offences involving oral sexual activity where the man “required the unfortunate victim to take his penis into her mouth,” Mr Justice Edwards said.
The offending increased in frequency and culminated in 2005 with a single incident of full vaginal rape. At that point the victim was 12 years of age and the man had just turned 18, the judge said.
Mr Justice Edwards said the Court of Appeal was of the view that the sentencing judge attached insufficient weight to the relevant immaturity of the offender.
“Yes, he had turned 18 in June 2005 but until that point he was legally a child”.
There was a strong likelihood that he did not have a level of insight into the nature of the offending and the affects of what he was doing, the judge said.
However, the offending was such that it could not be dealt with by anything other than a custodial sentence. He said the victim was very significantly affected by what had occurred. At one point she left school, made her way to a nearby county and attempted to self harm.
“Her childhood was in large measure ruined” by her cousin, Mr Justice Edwards said. There were days when anxiety took over and there was no exaggeration to say it had torn her life apart.
The crimes came to light due to the actions of the man himself. He was reaching a point of insight and he has continued on that journey, the judge said.
He was described by experts as having a moderate risk of re-offending and he had demonstrated a willingness to explore his abusive behaviour.
The court substituted his nine year sentence with one of seven years and three suspended and ordered 18 months post release supervision.
Mr Justice Edwards said the court hoped the man could put this reprehensible chapter in his life behind him and that he can be a contributing member of society when he gets out of prison.
The man was required to enter into a bond of €1,000 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the suspended period of his sentence.
He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim in perpetuity, “obviously other than by consent,” Mr Justice Ryan added.
By Ruaidhrí Giblin