Carlow man who raped woman and left her with life changing injuries loses appeal

The Court of Appeal heard the case on Tuesday

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Carlow Carlow Carlow

Court of Appeal, Dublin

A Carlow man who raped and seriously assaulted a woman in her 50s leaving her with life changing injuries, from which she is unlikely to recover, has lost an appeal against the severity of his 18-year sentence.

Anthony Cassidy (34) attacked the woman as she walked to a shop in the early hours of June 25, 2017, in a Carlow town. 

CCTV footage tracked Cassidy's movements to and from where he dumped his unconscious victim. There was no footage of the incident, which was said to last approximately 30 minutes, but imagery showed a male dragging a person to the location where the victim was discovered 12 hours later.

Cassidy, a father-of-one with an address at Tinryland, Carlow, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape and assault causing serious harm. He had 34 previous convictions, including one for soliciting sex in the UK and two for assaults in this country.

Sentencing him to 18 years imprisonment, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said he would have imposed a life sentence, were it not for Cassidy’s guilty plea and “genuine remorse”. 

Mr Justice McCarthy said it was “obvious” that Cassidy had followed the victim through the town and “simply” left her there “in a helpless situation” after the attack. 

Quoting from the woman's victim impact report in which she stated that she intends to “scrape together the little bit of dignity I have left and do my best to enjoy the rest of my life”, Mr Justice McCarthy said she “suffered extreme brain injury”.

Upholding his sentence in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Mr Justice Michael Peart said the events that occurred on the date in question were “so horrific”, he would refrain from describing them in detail. Members of the victim’s family were present in court for the appeal hearing. 

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Vincent Heneghan SC, told the Court of Appeal that Cassidy had initially denied the offence and his “attitude only changed when he was confronted with DNA evidence”.

Mr Heneghan said one could not get away from the “sheer savagery of the attack”, which lasted approximately 30 minutes. “It doesn’t get more serious; It doesn’t get more violent”. 

He said he would not have had difficulty arguing in favour of a life sentence, had it been imposed. 

Mr Justice Peart said the experienced Central Criminal Court judge was fully entitled to state that the offences were of the most serious type, and fell into the most serious category, of sexual offences. 

He said the sentencing judge correctly held that the headline sentence of life imprisonment could be reduced to a finite sentence of 18 years, on account of Cassidy’s guilty plea and remorse. 

Counsel for Cassidy, Roderick O’Hanlon SC, submitted that his client wasn’t given enough credit for the mitigating factors. 

He said his client cooperated with the garda investigation, notwithstanding his “initial denial”. This was followed up with a plea of guilty which, it was accepted, was entered early. 

Mr O’Hanlon said it was accepted by the sentencing judge that Cassidy’s actions since the offence “indicated an attitude of remorse”. 

He said two people had provided character references for Cassidy, both of whom said there were no prior indications in his makeup that an event like this would occur. 

Mr Justice Peart, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the Court of Appeal was unable to identify any error in the sentencing judge’s approach.

He said a sentencing court enjoyed a margin of discretion in arriving at a proportionate sentence, provided legal principles are observed correctly.

The appeal was therefore dismissed.