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Sentencing guidelines urgently required after as sex offender walks out of court- Sinn Féin

22 January, 2013 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called on the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter to immediately prepare fresh legislation on sentencing guidelines following another controversial court ruling dealing with serious sex offences. Yesterday, Judge Paul Carney released Patrick O'Brien on bail despite the fact that he had been convicted of the rape of his daughter over a ten year period.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said that there will now be wide-spread public concern that in the absence of clear sentencing guidelines, some victims of sexual violence will continue to see their attackers walk free. He will raise the issue in the Dáil today.

He said:

“Last year, two different judges made rulings that resulted in convicted sex attackers walking free. This is now a deeply worrying pattern. The Minister now urgently needs to prepare fresh legislation on sentencing guidelines. There has to be full transparency and accountability on court rulings by judges. And there must be consistency.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust invited Mr Justice Colman Treacy, Judge of the High Court of England and Wales to deliver their annual lecture last year. Judge Treacy also met with the Oireachtas Committee on Justice earlier that day to explain the comprehensive sentencing guidelines for judges operational in England and Wales.

“Just across the water, we have a template in the Sentencing Council and their sentencing guidelines that we would be wise to apply here in Ireland. It is a system that allows discretion and flexibility of sentencing to judges, according to the unique circumstances of each case, while also delivering transparency and accountability on sentencing to the public”.

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