Following the latest controversial sentencing of a convicted serious sexual offender, RCNI call for renewed urgency in reforming sentencing and bail practices.
Fiona Neary, Executive Director said, ‘sentencing is the final stage of a long and arduous journey for a survivor of rape and sexual crimes. It is estimated that only 2- 5% of all rapes will reach this point, as most victims will choose not to make any report. Sentencing for this small number of survivors is a vindication of not only their own rights and dignity but a resounding signal to fellow survivors that the State takes the violence they have experienced seriously. When a sentence fails to satisfy the dignity of the individual survivor, it fails other survivors who will never have their day in court.
‘This latest sentencing decision, where Patrick O’Brien was released on continued Bail having been given a 12 year custodial sentence, comes on the back of other controversial sentences over the past few months.
‘Consistency in sentencing continues to be of concern. While the average length of a sentence for rape is 9 years and 3 months (RAJI) there is variety in the final sentences for each individual case beyond the individual characteristics of cases. RCNI continue to strongly advocate for sentencing guidelines for judges to support consistency.
‘The RCNI are also advocating a number of reforms to bail practices. As recommended by Rape and Justice in Ireland 2009, Bail in rape cases should always be subject to strict conditions especially considering RAJI found 77% of defendants (for all rape cases between 2000 & 2005) are granted bail at some stage in the criminal justice process. However, Bail should not be granted to a defendant who has been convicted of rape as it is anticipated that a custodial sentence will follow. It is our firm belief, and a conclusion of the RAJI researchers, that bail after conviction cannot serve justice. Additionally, in the past it has permitted convicted rapists to abscond to avoid justice.’
- Figures above from RAJI: Rape & Justice in Ireland: a national study of Survivor, prosecutor and court responses to rape, Conor Hanly with Deirdre Healy and Stacey Scriver, RCNI, Liffey Press 2009
- Sentences that have caused controversy recently have included the sentencing of Anthony Lyons and Graham Griffiths who were both fined 75,000 and 15,000 respectively alongside greatly and entirely suspended sentences.