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Sentencing guidelines required after sex attacker walks free

18 October, 2012 - 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 the second court ruling this year that a sex attacker will avoid imprisonment by paying a fine to their victim.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said that there will now be widespread public concern that some perpetrators of serious crime can pay their way out of a jail sentence and this is a very dangerous direction for the criminal justice system to take.

He said:

“I agree with the concerns of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland that while compensation has its place in the legal system, it could never be seen as a substitute for the rehabilitation of the perpetrators of sexual assaults.

“As two different judges have made rulings of this nature this year, 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.

“Recently the Irish Penal Reform Trust invited Mr Justice Colman Treacy, Judge of the High Court of England and Wales to deliver their annual lecture. 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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