Ex-judge: Consider changes to murder sentencing and rape trials

Garrett Sheehan
Garrett Sheehan

Ireland should consider changes to murder sentencing and rape trials, former judge Garrett Sheehan has said.

Mr Sheehan, who retired from the Court of Appeal in March, spoke to The Irish Times about ways in which Ireland could improve its legal proceses.

He said automatic life sentencing for murder “absolutely needs to be looked at”.

Mr Sheehan said: “Murder happens in different circumstances and there’s perhaps a difference between somebody killing somebody in a fight or a bar-room brawl and somebody getting a gun and going out and shooting somebody after waiting for them all day.”

He said a minimum sentencing system, along the lines of the UK’s, may be the answer but that care was needed to “not minimise the consequences of taking a life”.

On rape trials, he suggested Ireland could learn from jurisdictions which use aa less confrontational approach to trials.

He said: “I’m not entirely sure that the adversarial system is best suited to this type of case but it’s what we’re stuck with.

“It seems to me that these cases are tried on the Continent as well, and I’ve often wondered what happens there under their system. We really need to look at what’s happening in those countries to see if we are treating victims any worse or any better.”

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