Director of Public Prosecutions -v- Piotrowski, [2014] IECCA 41 (2014)

Docket Number:20/10
Party Name:Director of Public Prosecutions, Piotrowski
Judge:Clarke J.


Clarke J.

Moriarty J.

Herbert J.


The People (at the suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions)Prosecutor/Respondentand

Edward PiotrowskiDefendant/Appellant

Judgment of the Court delivered by Mr. Justice Clarke on the 27th November, 2014.

1. Introduction

1.1 This judgment deals with the appeal against sentence brought by the defendant/appellant ("Mr. Piotrowski") arising out of his conviction by a jury on the 24th October, 2009 in respect of seven counts (together with a plea of guilty on a further count) of offences of aggravated burglary, assault causing harm, false imprisonment, aggravated sexual assault and rape.

1.2 Mr. Piotrowski appealed against his conviction in relation to those seven counts in respect of which he had pleaded not guilty. For reasons set out in a judgment of this Court (Director of Public Prosecutions v. Piotrowski [2014] IECCA 17) that appeal was dismissed. As noted in that judgment the question of Mr. Piotrowski's appeal against sentence was left over. Thereafter a further hearing took place in respect of the appeal against sentence. This judgment is directed to the issues which arose. It is appropriate, in that context, to turn first to the sentence itself.

2 The Sentence

2.1 As noted earlier Mr. Piotrowski had pleaded guilty in respect of one offence (assault causing harm, contrary to s.3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997.) Mr. Piotrowski pleaded not guilty, but was convicted, in respect of each of the other offences. As pointed out in the earlier judgment delivered by this Court in this matter, all of the offences related to a single prolonged incident when Mr. Piotrowski gained entry to a premises resided in by a woman, described in that judgment as Ms. Z. (with whom Mr. Piotrowski had had a previous relationship) at a time when a Mr. Y. (who had by the time of the offences in question, commenced a relationship with Ms. Z.) was also in the property concerned.

2.2 The plea of guilty to which reference has already been made was referable to an assault on Mr. Y (count 2).

2.3 The precise sentence imposed in respect of each offence was as follows:-

• Count 1, Aggravated burglary - 10 years imprisonment

• Count 2, Assault on Mr. Y - 5 years imprisonment

• Count 3, False Imprisonment of Mr. Y - 10 years imprisonment

• Count 4, False Imprisonment of Ms. Z - life imprisonment

• Count 5, Aggravated sexual assault of Ms. Z - life imprisonment

• Count 6, Rape contrary to section 4(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990 - life imprisonment

• Count 7, Rape contrary to section 4(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990 - life imprisonment

• Count 8, Rape contrary to section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) Act, 1981 (as amended) - life imprisonment

2.4 It is important to start by noting that counsel on behalf of Mr. Piotrowski accepted that the offences were very serious and necessarily would justify a lengthy prison sentence. In reality the focus of the appeal was based on a contention that the sentencing judge was in error in imposing a life sentence in respect of the five relevant counts identified in the preceding paragraph. Rather, it was argued, it would have been appropriate to impose an admittedly lengthy fixed term custodial sentence in respect of those counts. Thus, in substance, the appeal, at least at the oral hearing, was confined to arguing that the life sentence imposed in respect of counts 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 involved an error in principle such that it should be replaced by a lengthy custodial sentence. Against that background it is necessary to say a little more about the circumstances of the offence.

3 The Offences

3.1 The offences occurred in the early hours of the morning of 25th November, 2007 at a dwelling house outside a provincial town in the midlands. The house was owned...

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