Victims Further Traumatised by Outmoded Justice System

Friday, March 16th, 2007

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) expressed grave concern regarding the suspended sentence in the Mary Shannon case. The DRCC calls, yet again, for guidelines for judges, in sentencing in cases of rape and sexual assault.

Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, Chief Executive, DRCC said “Mary Shannon has shown enormous courage in waiving her right to anonymity this week and will definitely inspire other victims to come forward and report.”

But why is it that we have to wait for a crisis to accelerate reforms that are so necessary in our Judicial System – reforms that have been called for so often in the past by Rape Crisis Centres and the Law Reform Commission in 1993. Lavinia Kerwick, in a previous case of a suspended sentence in a convicted rape case, also waived her right to anonymity which led the way for reform of the law in the 1990’s. Lavinia’s protest insured that subsequent sentences that erred on the lenient side could be appealed by the DPP. Yet inconsistencies in sentencing have continued to cause even more distress and grief to victims such as we saw this week with Mary Shannon.

Is it not time for the Oireachtas to take up the challenge of developing sentencing guidelines for judges so that sentences would be consistent and reflect the seriousness of the offence? We need to protect and facilitate victims in their course of getting justice rather than subjecting them to an outmoded system that further traumatises them.”

For further information please contact:
Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, CEO – 01 661 4911 / 086 809 9618

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