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Proper training and sentencing guidelines for judges required - Ó Snodaigh

14 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the suspended sentence handed down to a convicted rapist this week highlights the need for proper training and sentencing guidelines for judges. Deputy Ó Snodaigh described the sentence as "a terrible misjudgement" and "a travesty of justice" and said it will be a major blow to the confidence of other victims when deciding whether to come forward to report their ordeals.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "In letting convicted rapist Adam Keane walk free this week Justice Paul Carney has made a terrible misjudgement and a travesty of justice has occurred. Sentencing for convicted rapists should reflect the acute and long-term impact of the crime on the perpetrator's victim and on their loved ones.

"This case highlights the urgent need for proper training for judges. As part of that training, judges should meet with the various victims groups to get an accurate picture of the true impact of rapes and sexual assaults. Having received proper training judges should then be issued with sentencing guidelines providing information and direction while at the same time allowing for a certain amount of judicial discretion.

"We need more consistent prosecution of sexual assault, rapes and domestic violence, coupled with priority access to free legal advice for victims and more appropriate sentencing outcomes. In the mean time where necessary the DPP should appeal sentences that are overly lenient including this one.

"Sex offenders must be seen to be appropriately punished. When they are not the Courts send a terrible message to other victims and deal a major blow to their confidence when they are deciding whether to come forward and report their ordeals." ENDS

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