DPP v Buckley

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
JudgeMr. Justice Birmingham
Judgment Date21 Oct 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] IECA 306
Docket Number68CJA/16

[2016] IECA 306

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Birmingham J.

The President

Birmingham J.

Sheehan J.

68CJA/16

The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Appellant
V
Seamus Buckley
Respondent

Sentencing – Indecent assault – Undue leniency – Appellant seeking review of sentence – Whether sentence was unduly lenient

Facts: The respondent, Mr Buckley, on the 16th February, 2016, in the Circuit Criminal Court in Cork, was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment. The sentence was imposed on each of 26 counts of indecent assault, all the sentences to run concurrently. The matter came before the Circuit Court on foot of signed pleas of guilty. The appellant, the DPP, appealed to the Court of Appeal seeking a review of the sentence on grounds of undue leniency. In seeking a review of the sentence, the DPP referred to the gravity of the offending conduct, the young age of the victim, the duration of the abuse, the breach of trust element, and the location of the abuse.

Held by Birmingham J that, having applied The People (DPP) v Byrne [1995] 1 ILRM 279, a more severe penalty was called for; the sentence imposed should not have been less than two years actual imprisonment, and to mark the seriousness of the offending behaviour a somewhat longer sentence, though part suspended, might well have been considered.

Birmingham J held that the Court would accede to the application of the DPP for a review and substitute for the sentence imposed in the Circuit Court a sentence of three years imprisonment. The Court would suspend the final two years of that sentence.

Appeal allowed.

JUDGMENT of the Court delivered on the 21st day of October 2016 by Mr. Justice Birmingham
Mr. Justice Birmingham
1

In this case the Director of Public Prosecutions seeks to review on grounds of undue leniency a sentence imposed upon the respondent to this application, Seamus Buckley. The sentence sought to be reviewed was imposed on the 16th February, 2016, in the Circuit Criminal Court in Cork, and it was a sentence of twelve months imprisonment imposed on each of 26 counts of indecent assault, all the sentences to run concurrently. The matter came before the Circuit Court on foot of signed pleas of guilty.

2

The background facts are that the court was concerned with abusive activity that took place between 1979 and 1985 at a time when the injured party was between six and twelve/thirteen years of age. The accused was approximately 21 years of age when the abuse started and approximately 27 years of age when it finished. During the abuse period, the accused was employed as a tractor mechanic by the injured party's father. Apart from being a long serving employee (he had 35 years service), he was also a trusted family friend and was regarded by theinjured party as an ‘uncle [type] figure’. The abuse consisted of the respondent fondling the complainant's vaginal area while he masturbated.

3

In July, 2014 the injured party contacted An Garda Síochána and reported what had occurred. Contact was made with the respondent on 7th November, 2014. Having been made aware of the allegations, he consulted a solicitor and then presented himself on the 25th November, 2014, at his local garda station, where he was interviewed and where he made full admissions in relation to the allegations that had been made. In the course of the sentence hearing, it was accepted by the investigating garda, Detective Garda Leahy, that these admissions were of considerable value and that absent those admissions this might have been a difficult case to prosecute.

4

The injured party addressed the court by way of a victim impact statement. It is clear that the abuse, as one would have expected, had a significant impact on the injured party and a lasting one. One matter which she emphasised was that because the abuse occurred in locations in and about her family home, this...

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