By Ruaidhrí Giblin
A convicted rapist who broke the terms of a suspended sentence by drinking alcohol has been jailed for two years by the Court of Appeal.
James Cronin (35), with a last address at Freemount, Rathmore, Co Kerry was jailed for seven years in May 2007 for attempting to rape a girl he met at a Killarney disco on Christmas Eve 2004.
Cronin, who had denied the charges, was already serving an eight year sentence for kidnapping and raping another woman he met outside a Killarney disco in the early hours of October 31, 2004.
His sentence (for the Christmas Eve incident) was varied to 10 years imprisonment with the final five suspended by the Court of Criminal Appeal on condition he comply with the probation services, which included abstaining from alcohol. Cronin has mental health issues and, according to the probation service, alcohol reduced the effectiveness of his medication.
After he was released from custody, Cronin was identified as having consumed alcohol to an excessive degree on several occasions. On foot of concerns, the probation service brought the matter back to the Court of Appeal today where a portion of Cronin’s five year suspended sentence was activated, requiring him to serve two years in jail.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said the three-judge court shared the concerns of the probation service. On a number of occasions, Cronin had consumed alcohol “clearly to excess” and alcohol acted as a “disinhibitor”, the judge said.
He said the chance Cronin was given by the Court of Criminal Appeal, in suspending the final five years of his sentence, was a valuable chance and, if Cronin was to benefit, he had to comply strictly with its terms.
Mr Justice Birmingham said the justice of the case would be met by activating two of the five years. It was done to impress upon Cronin that the conditions on which sentences were suspended “must be complied with”.
Cronin’s lawyers, Michael Bowman SC and Matthew Holmes BL, raised issues in respect of the form of the bond their client signed. However, Mr Justice Birmingham said those “errors” on the bond in respect of the judge, the court and the date did not deny the Court of Appeal jurisdiction.
The court heard that Cronin was currently serving a sentence in relation to a burglary offence in Co Kerry.