A man who had been given a wholly suspended seven-year sentence for raping and indecently assaulting his wife's sister in the 1980s has today been sentenced to three years in jail following an appeal by prosecutors.
The 53-year-old man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to two counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault committed against his wife's sister on dates between 1985 and 1986.
A jury found him guilty on all counts and he was given a wholly suspended seven years sentence by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on June 7, 2013.
In suspending the entire seven-year sentence, Mr Justice Sheehan had said the man's family needed support and care.
Two of his young sons had autism and required 24-hour care.
The Director of Public Prosecutions successful applied for a review of the man's sentence earlier this month on grounds that it was "unduly lenient".
In imposing a three-year prison sentence on the man today, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the object of the court was “just punishment” - punishment that is just.
He said the man had been married to the complainant's elder sister and they had two children. He was 25 at the time and the complainant, who used to babysit for him, was 13 years old at the time.
The offences were perpetrated in the box-room bedroom of the home on occasions when the complainant was staying over in the house and when the man had come home from socialising with his wife, Mr Justice Ryan said.
Whereas previously the sentencing court was aware that two young boys had autism and needed a lot of care at home, it was now apparent that the youngest boy, aged 4, had the same condition, he said.
The man's wife is pregnant and she, along with the children, will undoubtedly suffer if he is imprisoned, he said.
However, the man was not their only carer and the family had assistance from TUSLA and services from the HSE.
Today, Mr Justice Ryan said the sentencing judge had determined that the man's good conduct over the subsequent three decades amounted to 30 years of self-rehabilitation.
However, Mr Justice Ryan said that the judge was wrong because rehabilitation required acceptance of guilt which was absent in this case.
The sentencing judge was also wrong in fixing seven years as the starting point for the sentence, Mr Justice Ryan said. The starting point could not have been less than 10 years.
Given the extensive mitigating circumstances this was reduced to five and again to three “in the extreme circumstances of this case”.
Consequently Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, sentenced the man to three years imprisonment and he was immediately led away from court to begin serving the new sentence.