THE number of rape cases making it to court dropped by over a third last year because a growing number of victims are intimidated by the legal process, say rape crisis experts.
There were fresh calls last night for measures to help bring rape cases to court after figures showed a 37% drop trials going before a judge last year. Figures from the Courts Service Annual Report show 49 new cases came before the Central Criminal Court last year, the lowest annual total since 2005.
In all, 52 cases were disposed of in court last year, with guilty pleas entered in 18 cases. Another 25 cases went before a jury, with three life sentences imposed, along with five sentences of 12 years, and 13 sentences of between five and 12 years. There was an acquittal in 12 cases.
Ellen O’Malley Dunlop of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said the figures needed to be analysed.
“I would like to think that there is less rape but that does not match with our experiences here,” said Ms O’Malley Dunlop.
“We do know from the research that we have the highest fallout from reporting to getting to court, just 7% get to court.” She said sometimes women withdrew from the process because of intimidation.
The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland also said the figures needed to be studied in greater detail but said another possible reason could be tighter budgets at Garda and DPP level.
Ms O’Malley Dunlop said she hoped the DPP would follow through on a commitment to provide reasons to victims in cases where the DPP decides against taking a prosecution. She said there needed to be a fresh report into sexual crime, similar to the Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland report published a decade ago.
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