• By Admin

6 December 2019

The Supreme Court today issued its judgment on an appeal in a marital rape and assault case. Reacting to the ruling, Ceo of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Noeline Blackwell said:

“Today’s Supreme Court judgment constitutes an important milestone in our understanding of how rape sentences are to be considered in Irish law. The judgment clearly sets out that a conviction of rape will attract a suspended sentence only in the most extraordinary circumstances and that there are various categories into which rape offences can be banded.

“This particular case concerned a reduction of a sentence for marital rape because the Court of Appeal had considered the rape in isolation from all the other offences committed by the accused. While a crime may consist of a single event  the Supreme Court has clarified that it must also be seen in context, that it may happen over a longer period of time and that the Court of Appeal was wrong to see the rape in isolation.

“It is also worthy of note that one of the factors which may attract a higher sentence is where there is an abuse of trust in the marital relationship, recognising that sexual assault is very often part of a wider pattern of domestic violence and abuse.”

She concluded: “This decision help to make clear to all victims and to all offenders in sexual violence crimes what may be expected in rape convictions. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcomes this clarification in our law.”


Editors Notes:

  1. The reference for the case is The People (DPP) v FE, judgment delivered by Charleton J, 6 December 2019. You can download the judgment at http://bit.ly/2qHu234
  2. 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.  It runs education and training courses on a wide variety of topics associated with its work.
  3. 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.