Court of Appeal, Dublin
A serial sex attacker has appealed against his 18-and-a-half-year jail term for three premeditated, random attacks on women over a five-year period in south Dublin.
The father-of-two was jailed in 2018 for the violent attacks, which the judge described as primal and brutal. He has already lost an appeal against his convictions.
One of the attacks was carried out in broad daylight, with the man putting a hunting knife to his victim’s throat as she made her way to work.
The other two attacks involved a sexual assault and took place late at night as the women walked home after a night out.
The 37-year-old attacked all three women at locations in the same Dublin suburb in 2011, 2015 and 2016. Neither the man, nor the area of Dublin, can be named for legal reasons at this time.
He pleaded not guilty to nine charges, including false imprisonment, sexual assault, assault and possession of a hunting knife with intent to intimidate.
Following the final attack, witnesses identified a suspect van which Gardaí linked to the man. His DNA was subsequently matched to DNA found under the nails of one of his victims and on semen found on the clothes of another. Inside his van, Gardaí found duct tape and cable ties. Similar items were used on his second victim and were found near to where the third assault occurred.
After a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, a jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all counts.
Judge Pauline Codd labelled him as ‘clearly a dangerous man’. She said that the involvement of a leather belt, a hunting knife, duct tape and cable ties were aggravating factors.
She imposed consecutive sentences of eight years, nine and a half years and five years. She suspended the final four years on condition that he successfully complete sex offender programmes in custody. Following his release he will be subject to a nine-year supervision period and will have to obey a curfew.
He appealed against his conviction to the Court of Appeal last year, but lost that appeal in January.
His barrister, Desmond Dockery SC, returned to the court today (Friday) to appeal against his sentence.
Mr Dockery first acknowledged that his client did not accept his guilt. His not guilty plea and trial always meant that any sentence would be severe, he noted.
However, he said that the headline sentence imposed for the false imprisonment in the third attack was unduly severe, ‘so the overall sentence was somewhat excessive’. He explained that this was a headline sentence of 11 years, which was eventually reduced to eight years after mitigation and other legal factors were considered.
However, Counsel said that this offence was ancillary to the very serious assault he carried out with a knife on that occasion, but was double the sentence handed down for that crime.
“She wasn’t entitled to do that,” he said of the judge.
“She had to start with a headline sentence for false imprisonment, which bore some proportionality to the sentence available to her for assault,” he said.
He noted that the available sentence for assault was not as high as that available for false imprisonment, but said that should have been considered before deciding which charges he should face.
“She seems to have treated this offence as the main offence and in my submission it was not,” he said.
Roisin Lacey SC responded on behalf of the DPP. She said that this was the first case of a serial attacker to come before the circuit court here and perhaps before any Irish court.
However, she said there was a precedent for giving a larger sentence to the false imprisonment aspect of an attack than to the actual assault. She drew the court’s attention to the case where the precedent was set.
Court President Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Justice Patrick McCarthy and Justice Aileen Donnelly, reserved judgment.
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