• By Admin

Thursday 1 March 2018. For immediate release 

 In the aftermath of a judgment given by the Court of Appeal on Monday 26 February 2018, where the Court reduced the sentence of a husband convicted of the rape of his wife, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has called for an urgent review of the law relating to marital and intimate partner rape. 

The appeal followed on a judgment of Ms. Justice Isobel Kennedy in the High Court where, following a full hearing, a husband was convicted of the rape of his wife and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, of which the final two years were suspended. In addition, the husband was convicted of having assaulted and caused serious harm and threatening to kill his wife over a period, as well as seriously assaulting his mother in law at  her home. 

In Monday’s decision by the Court of Appeal, the 12-year sentence for rape was reduced to 10 years, of which 18 months was suspended, leaving a custodial sentence of 8 and a half years.  A sentence for assault causing serious harm was left unchanged at 7 and a half years. 

Calling for the review of sentencing in marital cases, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO,  Noeline Blackwell, said: “While the Court  of Appeal recognised the serious nature of the rape, they took the view that it should be viewed in isolation from all the other assaults and threats by the woman’s husband in the same period. This is a matter of great concern to us. Intimate violence is not just one action to be viewed alone. In marital rape, it should be viewed in the context of the overall violence.  Over a short period, this woman’s husband threatened to kill her, to cut off her face.  Her car was rammed by him, he denied her permission to remove their young son from the house. He put her and her mother and her family in total terror.  He hit them with a hammer. This is the reality of those who are raped in their own houses.” 

“If the courts are now looking at these rapes in isolation, and reducing sentences as if there was no context of the marriage or the breach of trust or children involved, the government and the Oireachtas must step in to ensure that sentences in these cases are realistic and recognise the utter gravity of the case.” 

Ms. Blackwell said that the Domestic Violence Bill 2017, which is now going through the Oireachtas, provides an opportunity to ensure that the State actually protects spouses and domestic partners. She said: “Sentencing in criminal cases is supposed to punish the perpetrator, protect society and allow for rehabilitation. This case, treating a rape within a marriage just as any other rape, does not protect society in the place where members of society are extremely vulnerable.” 


Spokesperson:  Noeline Blackwell info@rcc.ie  


Editor’s Notes 

  1. This press release follows the decision of the Court of Appeal delivered on Monday 26 February 2018 in the case DPP v FE Record No. 219/2016. The unapproved judgment states delivery on 22 February 2018 but in fact was delivered 26 February. The case was an appeal against severity of sentences imposed by Judge Isobel Kennedy in the Central Criminal Court on 30 June 2016.  The defendant was convicted of rape, assault causing serious bodily harm, threats to kill, assault causing serious harm to his wife and also assault causing serious harm to his wife’s mother.  
  1. The Domestic Violence Bill 2017 has passed all stages in the Seanad and is awaiting debate in the Dáil.  
  1. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is a non-governmental, voluntary organisation which has as its mission to prevent the harm and heal the trauma of rape. It offers a suite of services to victims of sexual violence.  It runs the National 24-Hour Helpline for those who need it in any part of the country. It offers face to face therapy and accompaniment to the Rotunda Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, to court or to Garda stations to people in Dublin and in surrounding areas from its offices at Leeson Street. There are outreach offices at Coolock Civic Centre, Dóchas Women’s Centre, Mountjoy Prison and Tallaght Hospital.   
  1. We ask that when reporting on this topic, journalists remember that discussions on sexual violence can trigger personal trauma in those receiving the information. Where possible, please make reference to the National 24-Hour Helpline number 1800 77 88 88 for anyone who may be affected by the discussion.