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Sentencing Council Model would tackle inconsistent and lenient sentences for sexual crimes offenders – Mary Lou McDonald TD

26 October, 2017 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today called on the Tánaiste to introduce a Sentencing Council Model to address the ongoing problem of inconsistent and lenient sentences handed down to the perpetrators of rape and sexual abuse. 

Speaking in the Dáil during Leaders Questions, the Dublin Central TD said:

“The leniency of the sentence handed down in a sexual offences case earlier this week rightfully disgusted and angered people.

“Despite the horrific nature of the crimes, the perpetrator received a sentence of just two and half years. This is breath-taking, infuriating and it is shameful.

“It sends a very dangerous message to victims of sexual violence and to wider society. This is not a unique or isolated case.  

“There is a very real problem with the sentences handed down to the perpetrators of rape and sexual abuse. Inconsistency, leniency, and light sentences are common practice.

“As a result the public does not trust our justice system to deliver punishments that fit the crime.

“Legislators must respond rationally and effectively to what is a very grave deficiency within our criminal justice system. Government must lead that response. 

“There is an urgent need for a mechanism to deliver consistency and accountability in sentencing. The Sentencing Council Model should be introduced in this state.

“This involves a full range of stakeholders and the wider public in the process of establishing sentencing guidelines for the judiciary. Members of the judiciary remain central to this process.

“The sentencing guidelines issued ensure that the judiciary must stick to the range provided for the category of offence before them. This would reassure the public of the appropriateness of sentences for serious crimes. It would also ensure consistency and accountability across the court system.

“Sinn Féin has twice introduced legislation to create a Sentencing Council Model, and we are calling on the Government to support us in moving this solution forward.”

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