by Ruaidhrí Giblin
A man who sexually assaulted two sleeping teenage girls at separate house parties has lost an appeal against the severity of his three year jail term.
Christopher Twohig (24), of Banteer West, Co Cork, had pleaded guilty to sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl while she appeared to be asleep at a house party in Cork in 2011 and sexually assaulting a 19-year-old girl who had gone to sleep in a room on her own in Cork in 2014.
He was sentenced to four years imprisonment with the final year suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Sean O Donnabhain on June 23, 2017. Judge O Donnabhain imposed a concurrent 12 month jail term for the first offence on the same occasion.
Twohig lost an appeal against his sentence today with the Court of Appeal holding that his sentence was “arguably lenient”.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the first assault occurred at a house party in Cork when the victim was aged 15 and Twohig 18 or 19.
The victim had gone to the house where she knew the tenants and decided to stay overnight. She had gone to sleep on the couch where Twohig partially removed her clothing and touched her breasts and penetrated her vagina.
It lasted about fifteen minutes and the girl pretended to be asleep for fear of Twohig’s reaction if he discovered she was awake and conscious, the judge said.
The second offence occurred at another dwelling in Cork where the victim, aged 19 while Twohig was 22, was staying overnight with friends and had gone to sleep in a room on her own.
She awoke to find Twohig beside her digitally penetrating her. She got up and left and made a complaint to gardai the following day.
Mr Justice Mahon said Twohig fully admitted his involvement in both offences and cooperated with the gardai in their investigation. He pleaded guilty at an early stage and was “genuinely remorseful”.
The sentencing judge said the second offence was “alarming” because of its similarity to the first offence three years earlier.
Opposing the appeal, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Imelda Kelly BL, said an effective sentence of three years for two sexual assaults on two separate women within a three year period was “not disproportionate” and “not out of kilter with the norm”.
Mr Justice Mahon said the four year sentence was “arguably lenient”. He said a five year sentence with a greater suspended element than the 25% afforded here, would not have been out of place.
He said the overall custodial period of three years was certainly not excessive and the Court of Appeal could not identify an error in principle.
Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the appeal was therefore dismissed.