The chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has expressed concern about the enforceability of bail conditions in sexual offence cases.
Noeline Blackwell was commenting on the bail conditions imposed on a taxi driver who was not allowed carry passengers in the front seat or to work at night time during the time between being charged and when he made his guilty plea on the morning of his trial in February.
Mansoor Udin (41) was arrested and charged with the sexual assault of three women passengers, part of his bail conditions was that any passenger, male or female, was not permitted to be a front seat passenger in his taxi.
He was also subject to a curfew which meant that he was not permitted to work as a taxi driver at night time, but the concern was that he was still driving a taxi and carrying women on their own in the back of the vehicle.
When he pleaded guilty in February, gardaí issued a statement confirming his licence had been immediately revoked.
The lack of sentencing guidelines and the absence of specialised training for the judiciary and all involved in the prosecution of sexual abuse cases, were a great cause for concern Ms Blackwell told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.
“What is extraordinary about the bail condition in relation to passengers in the front seat is the issue of enforceability. A curfew could be policed, but how would passengers in the front seat?”
There is a question over the understanding and training of the judiciary before such an order was made. What was put in place would be impossible to enforce.
She said it was a worry that when sexual abuse victims go to court, would the judiciary be sufficiently aware and trained to deal with such cases.
“If there were to be problems with passengers in this case, how could it possibly be enforced?
“When the public see such weak enforcement it could make them reluctant to report cases,” she warned.
In her judgment in court on Monday Judge Sinead Ní Chulacháin said the case was aggravated by Uddin abusing his position as a taxi driver, his being aware of the vulnerability of the injured parties, his refusing to stop the taxi in two of the three cases and the timing of the offences being at night.
Uddin was sentenced to six years in prison with the final year suspended.
The sentence “seems like the higher end, it certainly looks like that was a stiff sentence,” added Ms Blackwell.