Barrister asks court not to give “blank cheque” to teenage rapists during teen's sentence appeal

A teenager who boasted about raping a 15-year-old girl at a house party, must wait to hear the outcome of two appeals concerning his three-year jail term.

Lawyers for the man, who was aged 16 when he raped the girl, say his three-year jail term was “too long” while lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions contend it was too lenient.

The 20-year-old man, whose details cannot be published to protect the victim’s identity, had pleaded not guilty to rape at a house in Co Wexford on July 24, 2014.

There was a two-year delay between the accused being interviewed and charged, which meant he was tried as an adult.

He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to five years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Mr Justice Paul McDermott on October 23, 2017.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the the teenagers had engaged in “banter” on social media before making an arrangement to meet up.

She took a lift with him and friends to a house party, where she was given shots of vodka and felt very unwell.

The accused then offered to bring her upstairs “and help her to lie down”.

A short time later, some of the man’s friends banged on the door and ordered him to stop “what he was doing.”

He returned downstairs and “boasted” to friends, “I bagged her”, the court heard.

Moving to appeal against the severity of his sentence today, the man’s barrister, Paddy McCarthy SC, said his client’s three year jail term was “too long”.

Mr McCarthy said the incident occurred in 2014 but his client wasn’t charged until August 2016, after he had turned 18.

He said his client was a child at the time and, as such, any penalty imposed on him should “cause as little interference” as possible with his pursuits.

He submitted that it was desirable to allow the education, training or employment of child offenders to proceed without interruption, according to Section 96.2 of the Children’s Act 2001.

Mr McCarthy said the objective behind sentencing children was their successful reintegration into society.

He said his client’s “career development” when he comes out of prison and returns to society would be “seriously undermined”.

He said his client may only be able to go back to college as a 23-year-old which “may diminish his career opportunities into the future”.

The man is a musician and was doing “theory exams” in prison, the court heard.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Pauline Walley SC, welcomed the fact the man withdrew an appeal against his conviction that morning.

“It was some comfort to the injured party who is in court,” she added.

Ms Walley, who brought a cross appeal on grounds the man’s sentence was “unduly lenient", said the DPP was “very mindful” that young offenders should be treated differently, but “it doesn’t mean someone should get a blank cheque”.

She said the case could become a benchmark for similar offences involving young offenders.

She submitted that the sentencing judge focused on the man’s age “to the exclusion” of “troubling aspects” to the offence.

Ms Walley said the man had a declared intention or “determination” of having sex with the comatose woman from earlier on in the night.

The injured party was a “young 15-year-old” of “slight frame”, Ms Walley said.

She was a virgin at the time and bruises on her arms showed the restraint the accused exercised on her.

Ms Walley said the accused had pushed “this myth” that the injured party was the instigator or was “somehow to be blamed because she wasn’t able to control herself” due to her intoxication.

The accused, in garda interviews, described the injured party as a “willing participant”.

It was “clearly false” given the “state” she was in, Ms Walley said.

The injured party was “virtually comatose” and “unconscious” according to the accused’s own friends.

Ms Walley said the accused’s own friends “admonished him” for what he had done.

One of his friends threatened to kill him.

She said the accused then elected to put the injured party through a trial and “elected to continue to castigate her”.

She said a probation report found him to be at a medium risk of reoffending.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court would reserve judgment.

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