Two men who were in their teens when they sexually assaulted one woman and assaulted another have had the suspended portions of their jail sentences increased by the Court of Appeal.
As a result, both could be out of jail sooner than originally expected.
Adam Heneghan, aged 21, of Upper Dromohane, Mallow, Co Cork, admitted to one count of assault causing harm and one count of sexual assault against two women on December 3, 2011, in Cork City.
He was sentenced to nine years in jail with the final year suspended — three years imprisonment on the first count and six years on the second count to run consecutively — at Cork Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Patrick Moran on February 27, 2013.
Colin O’Sullivan, aged 22, with a last address at Kilbrin, Mallow, Co Cork, was found guilty of assault causing harm and “eventually” pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault.
O’Sullivan was sentenced to 10 years in jail with the final year suspended — four years imprisonment on the first count and six years imprisonment on the second.
Mr Justice George Birmingham yesterday said the offences were very grave.
He said two males had singled out and inflicted violence, including sexual assault, on females going about their business in the early hours of the morning.
However, he said the court was troubled by the question of whether adequate credit was given to the men being as young as they were, with no previous convictions, O’Sullivan’s developmental issues, and Heneghan’s early plea.
Heneghan was 18 at the time, living with his parents, working, and was a father. In July 2012 attempted suicide due to anxiety over his involvement in the incident.
O’Sullivan was 19 at the time, living with his parents in north Cork, working, and also a father. In his case, there was evidence he had developmental issues and learning difficulties.
Mr Justice Birmingham said inadequate credit was given to mitigating factors and the court concluded there was an error in principle by the sentencing judge.
He said the Court of Appeal would leave the starting point of nine and 10 years imprisonment to reflect the seriousness of the offences.
However, regarding the mitigation, Mr Justice Birmingham said: “The trial judge ought to have taken these into account by suspending a greater portion of the sentence.”
Accordingly, the court suspended three-and-a-half years of O’Sullivan’s term and four of Henegan’s.
This means both men will have with a significant suspended sentence hanging over them when they complete their sentences. Having regard to the need to emphasise that they must resume a law-abiding lifestyle, Mr Justice Birmingham said it was an appropriate action.
They were then returned to jail, where they will serve out the remaining custodial portion of their sentences.
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