Sentence to be changed as judge errs in sex case

A Pakistani man jailed for the sexual exploitation of a 13-year-old girl in what was the first prosecution taken under child protection legislation has had his sentence vacated by the Court of Appeal.

Muhammad Hussain, aged 32, with a last address at Steam Boat Quay, Limerick City, pleaded not guilty to travelling to meet a child with the intention of carrying out an act that would constitute sexual exploitation on July 22, 2011.

He was sentenced to four years in jail by Judge Sarah Berkeley at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on April 4, 2014. Hussain successfully appealed against his sentence in the Court of Appeal yesterday and a new sentence will be imposed on March 16.

Counsel for Hussain Ciaran O’Loughlin had submitted that because this was the first conviction for an offence under this section, it was not appropriate for prosecution counsel to suggest any sentence to the judge.

The Court of Appeal agreed and stated yesterday where no guidance from an appeal court or, a reputable analysis of sentences typically imposed exists, then it is not appropriate to do so.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, who sat with Mr Justice Gerard Hogan and Ms Justice Mary Irvine, said the judge erred in principle in considering submissions.

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