Punish heinous crimes severely

The following is an editorial regarding the killing of Marioara Rostas published in the ‘Garda Review’

THE body of Marioara Rostas was discovered in a shallow grave in a mountainous area near Manor Kilbride, Co Wicklow, after a search operation by a garda team in January.

Marioara Rostas was a defenceless young woman who was 18 years of age when she was abducted in Dublin’s south inner city in 2008. She was brutalised and murdered in a most heinous crime that has shocked all of the gardaí involved in the subsequent investigation and search operation.

In the final days of her life she was treated horrifically; the manner of her death too savage to be understood within a developed society.

There was a dignified candlelit vigil held near to Pearse St Garda Station to mark her funeral that was attended by members of the Roma community alongside gardaí involved in the investigation and members of the public.

Our colleagues are meticulously following every line of inquiry and are determined that anyone involved, at any level, will be rigorously prosecuted. We have no doubt that the perpetrators and those who aided them will be brought before the courts.

It must be said that public outrage has not galvanised into mass demonstrations of solidarity against this direct assault on our humanity. Where are the outpourings of disgust that such a level of depravity could be committed here? The vocal dissension and mobilisation against fox and stag hunting and the political communication to retain the medical card for the senior citizens dwarfed any rallying against violent and murderous sexual predators.

This raises the question: Would a teenager’s abduction, abuse, and murder have been more newsworthy, more talked about, and simply more emotive if she were an Irish national?

As a society, are we ambivalent towards the murder because the victim was a member of the Roma community or have we simply become indifferent and complacent to criminal justice issues?

The murder of Veronica Guerin sparked public anger that resulted in the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau and later a range of measures to expedite the prosecution of organised criminal gangs.

The murder of Shane Geoghegan in Limerick in 2008 provoked national public opinion demanding strong and resolute action by government.

This directly resulted in the introduction of the Criminal Justice Bill 2009 with a range of practical measures to assist the gardaí and justice system in effectively tackling gangland crime.

Before the judicial system, murder is an all-encompassing definition of a variety of circumstances where the outcome for the victim is a premeditated death, to which the sentencing has a ground floor and a ceiling. But not all murders are equal; some extend the victim’s suffering while others pursue physical torture and psychological cruelty to the level of incongruity that we can only term as “horror”.

No one can fully grasp the suffering of a teenage girl in her final days and her death at the hands of someone outside of society’s mores and standards. As a community, we must ensure we have done all we need to make sure justice is done — and seen to be done — heinous acts outside of common comprehension must be regarded and treated as exceptional rather than as part of the norm.

We believe in everyone’s right to life. The right to life is enshrined in the Constitution, the European Convention of Human Rights and Statute Law.

To protect everyone in society from such barbarity, we need to raise meaningful debate on the levels within the category of murder before the courts.

We propose that judges should be given greater latitude for the sentences permissible for the most heinous crimes; such is important refinement to our country.

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