Court of Appeal: 29-year-old man’s sentence for raping his neighbour in her bedroom reduced to 8 years
The Court of Appeal has quashed the eleven-year sentence given to a man convicted of raping a young woman in her bedroom Cork, and resentenced the man to eight years’ imprisonment with the final three years suspended upon conditions.
Delivering the judgment of the three-judge Court, Mr Justice Edwards found that the sentencing judge, by comparing the case to rape committed in the course of burglary, had erred in placing the case “too far along the scale of seriousness”. Accordingly, a 37.5% reduction in the original sentence was appropriate.
A 29-year old man, TV, was convicted of raping a young woman in her own bedroom in Cork city in 2009. During the man’s trial in 2012, the Court heard that the young woman had returned home with a number of friends after a night out in Cork city, and that TV was a neighbour who had been invited into the home that the woman shared with her friends. The Court heard that the woman, who was a virgin at the time of the assault, had gone to sleep alone in her bedroom, waking up some time later to the pain of being raped by TV.
In October 2012, TV was convicted by a jury in the Central Criminal Court on a count of rape, contrary to s.48 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and s.2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981 as amended by s. 21 of the Criminal Law (Rape)(Amendment) Act 1990.
In November 2012, TV was sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment, with the last three years suspended upon conditions. He was also required to submit to a period of post release supervision, and was placed on the sex offenders register.
Grounds of Appeal
Counsel on behalf of TV argued that the sentence was “in all the circumstances excessive”, and submitted four specific complaints:
The Court of Appeal
Having regard to the circumstances of the crime, and particularly the harm done to the victim, TV not only required a custodial sentence but a custodial sentence of some considerable length.
That being said, even taking account of the aggravating factors of the rape having occurred in the victim’s own bedroom in her own home, a place where above all she was entitled to expect that she would be allowed to sleep unmolested, and the fact that advantage was taken of a degree of vulnerability on her part, the degree to which the case was aggravated was not at all as much as it would have been if it had been committed in the course of a burglary as per The People (Director of Public Prosecutions) v. Adam Keane 3 IR 177.
Distinguishing Keane, the Court found that the present case was comparable to The People (Director of Public Prosecutions) v. Power IECA 37.
Thus, the Court was satisfied that the sentencing judge erred in this case in placing this case too far along the scale of seriousness in determining the headline sentence to be applied before discounting for mitigation – “a headline sentence of eleven years was unusual and out of kilter with most comparators involving one off rapes without pre-meditation or the occasioning of extra violence to the victim (beyond the inherent violation that is associated with every rape)”.
The three-judge Court reduced the headline sentence from eleven years to eight years’ imprisonment.
However, in circumstances where TV was said to be “doing well in prison, and to incentivise his continuing rehabilitation”, the Court decided not to interfere with the 3-year period of suspension determined upon by the trial judge.
In addition, the Court imposed the same requirements in terms of post release supervision, and the requirement that the appellant be on the sex offender’s register remained unchanged.