Two men who took part in an attempted “predatory gang rape” of a woman in a van with a mattress in the back have had their jail terms cut on appeal.
The two men aged 22 and 24, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, along with a third man (aged 22) ultimately found not guilty on all counts, had denied the rape, attempted rape, oral rape and sexual assault of the woman at an unknown location in Cork on September 13 2009.
A Central Criminal Court jury unanimously found the 22-year-old guilty of attempted rape, sexual assault and oral rape and the 24-year-old unanimously guilty of attempted rape and sexual assault on November 7 2012 following a nine day trial.
The charges of vaginal rape against all three accused were dropped during the trial because of the woman's evidence that the men had not penetrated her despite them telling gardai that they had.
Mr Justice Paul Carney jailed both men for ten years each on January 31 2013.
Dismissing the mens' appeals against conviction in July, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said their trial was conducted in “exemplary fashion” and their convictions should stand.
However, they successfully appealed their sentences with the Court of Appeal finding that greater consideration should have been given to their rehabilitation in prison and, accordingly, the final year of their sentences were suspended.
Mr Justice Mahon said today that without incentives to rehabilitate themselves the pair were likely to reoffend and return to criminality when they complete their sentences by then aged in their twenties.
It was hoped, he said, that the prospect of being returned to prison would act as a deterent to reoffend.
The court allowed the appeal and replaced their existing sentences with new sentences of ten years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended each.
The pair were aged 16 and 18 at the time while the woman was 31.
She had been out socialising with friends on the night in question when she became separated from her group, the judge said, and she somehow ended up in the back of the then 18-year-old's van but denied hitching a lift because she had ample money.
The van had a mattress in the back and there were four males present aged 18, 16, 15 and 11, the judge said. “These individuals attempted various sexual relations with her while she was in the van” the judgment stated.
Opposing the sentence appeal, counsel for the DPP, Patrick McCarthy SC, said they engaged in a “predatory gang rape” of the woman and their sentences should stand.
Mr Justice Mahon said they went out that night with the intention of subjecting one or more woman to the dreadful ordeal experienced by the victim and she was unfortunate enough to have encountered them.
Despite their ages, they were “experienced in criminality beyond their years”, Mr Justice Mahon said, and perhaps this fact lead the sentencing judge to comment that each of them had 'left their childhood long behind'.
The victim was dropped off close to her home having suffered extensive bruising to her arms, legs and torso. Money was stolen from her handbag along with her car keys – the 22-year-old pleaded guilty to stealing her car at the outset of the trial.
The two had lost appeals against their convictions in July with Mr Justice Mahon stating at the time that “the manner in which this trial was conducted strongly indicates that it was a trial conducted in exemplary fashion” by Mr Justice Carney.
Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, required the men to enter into €100 bonds to keep the peace and be of good behaviour while in custody and for three years post release.
When asked if they undertook to be so bound, both said “yeah”.