Convicted rapist not required to participate in treatment programme for sex offenders

Sean McCarthaigh

Reporter:

Sean McCarthaigh

Convicted rapist not required to participate in treatment programme for sex offenders

Convicted rapist not required to participate in treatment programme for sex offenders

An English businessman who raped and abused two young sisters will not have to participate in a sex offenders treatment programme in order to have the last two years of his 14-year-jail sentence suspended, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The court heard that a condition of participating in the Better Lives treatment programme is for a convicted person to accept their guilt. The man, however, continues to deny the offences.

The 39-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, targeted the two girls while they were being neglected by their mother and moved the family to Ireland to avoid detection.

He was found guilty at the Central Criminal Court in April 2019 following a 42-day trial on three counts of rape and eight counts of sexually assaulting the two girls at addresses in Dublin and Louth between December 3, 2010 and March 10, 2011. His victims were aged 10 and 12 years at the time of the offences.

The man was sentenced to 14 years in prison by Mr Justice Michael White with two years suspended on condition that he participated in the Better Lives treatment programme on release.

However, lawyers for the appellant, who continues to protest his innocence, claimed his sentence was effectively one of 14 years as he was unlikely to be able to avail of the suspended period of two years because a condition of participating in the “Better Lives” programme was that a convicted person accepted their guilt.

They also argued that Mr Justice White had erred in law and in principle by characterising the conduct of his legitimate defence during the trial as an aggravating factor which had resulted in an excessive and disproportionate sentence.

Counsel for the DPP claimed the judge had pointed out that the appellant had his legal team put very damaging accusations that he knew were untrue to one of his victims that she had made false allegations of sexual abuse in order to avoid having to return to her mother’s care.

However, the Court of Appeal said that while it was readily understandable that Mr Justice White regarded the conduct of the man’s defence as an example of his manipulative conduct, it said the fact that an accused contested a trial should not add one day to their sentence.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Máire Whelan, said the court, with some reservation, found the trial judge had erred in considering the conduct of his defence as an aggravating factor but the error was not of such substance that it justified an intervention by the court.

She said the ultimate sentence of 14 years was proportionate given the offences were very serious with many aggravating factors.

However, the Court of Appeal said legislation did not allow a precondition to be fulfilled in advance of the suspended part of a sentence coming into force.

As a result, it ruled there was an error in the structuring of the sentence by the requirement on the appellant to participate in the Better Lives programme, although it acknowledged the motivation by the trial judge in imposing the condition was to reduce the likelihood of his re-offending.

The Court of Appeal removed the condition about attending the Better Lives programme and suspended the final two years provided the man keeps the peace for a period of two years and remains under the supervision of the Probation Service for the same period and to comply with any directions including his attendance on programmes.

The man was also ordered to have no contact with any of the victims “in perpetuity”.

The Court of Appeal also ordered that he remain under post-release supervision for a period of four years with the requirement to notify the authorities of his address and any change of address within seven days.