The Court of Criminal Appeal reserved judgement today on the outcome of an appeal, brought by a 50-year-old man against the severity of his 20-year sentence for the rape of two sisters and the indecent assault of another.
The man, who is originally from Co Laois, was convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court in December 2003 on 11 charges of rape and 20 charges of indecent assault against the sisters.
The abuse took place over a 10-year period in the late 1970s, early 1980s when the three sisters were aged between four and 14 years of age.
On March 22, 2004, Mr Justice Michael Peart imposed two eight-year consecutive sentences for the rape of two of the sisters, and a further four-year consecutive term for the indecent assaults.
Mr Blaise O’Carrol SC, on behalf of the man mounting the sentence appeal, argued before the court today, that there was an “error in principle” in the way his client was sentenced.
His counsel described the structure of the sentences as “harsh”, and said the courts needed to take into account the principles of “totality” and “proportionality” when imposing consecutive jail terms.
The man’s lawyers also said there was a “time lapse” of 20 years before the case came to court, and that by then, he was a married father with a good work record.
The man was 15 years old when he began sexually abusing the girls who were his neighbours.
The court was told he still “vehemently denies” the convictions, and does not accept the verdicts made against him.
An appeal brought by the man against his conviction has already been disposed of by the court.
The DDP opposed today’s application.
Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, for the State, said there were many aggravating factors in this case, including the prolonged nature of the abuse and the “enormous” effect the abuse had had on the sisters.
Counsel for the DDP said the 20-year jail term was not “too much”, and that trial judge structured the sentence in such a way as to give effect to the abuse suffer by each victim.
The CCA, of Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell presiding, sitting with Ms Justice Elizabeth and Mr Justice Daniel O’Keefe will deliver its judgement on the appeal at a later date.