DPP v Kennedy


[2014] IECA 21



Mahon J.

Edwards J.

DPP v Kennedy
The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Peter Kennedy

177/2013 - Birmingham Mahon Edwards - High - 16/12/2014 - 2014 16 4393 2014 IECA 21


Criminal law – Appeal against severity of sentence – Ten years imprisonment – Twenty-seven counts of indecent assault – Indictment – Eighteen complainants – Over period of eighteen years – Sentencing – Victim impact reports – Aggravating and mitigating factors – Totality – Proportionality – Significant period of non-offending – Whether no longer a threat to society – Appellant”s age considered – Whether error of principle

Birmingham J.

In this case the appellant appeals against the severity of a sentence that was imposed upon him in the Circuit Court on the 8th July, 2013. The sentence that is the subject of the appeal is one of ten years imprisonment, which was backdated to the 26th December, 2011.


The appellant was before the court for sentencing in respect of 27 counts of indecent assault. The sentence was imposed on one count with all the other counts taken into consideration. The counts that were on the indictment and to which the appellant entered pleas related to eighteen complainants and covered a period of offending that stretched between 1968 and 1986.


With one exception, all of the complainants were school boys and some of the complainants were related to him. In other cases, his contact with them was through contact with their family in his role as a priest serving in various, and ministering in various parishes around the country.


The court had before it a number of victim impact reports and eight reports were read to the court and one further report was handed in. These reports showed that there had been a profound impact on victims and that some of those who were abused in their teenage years were continuing to experience the effect of that abuse now many years later at a time when they were in middle age and upper middle age. In some cases the effects manifested themselves in difficulties in parenting, difficulties in bonding with their own children, in other cases in difficulties in forming relationships and so on.


A brief summary of the facts are as follows. Between the years 1968 and 1986, the Appellant committed a number of offences of indecent assault on a total of eighteen complainants. The circumstances of the offences for each complainant were largely similar and involved a situation where the Appellant was alone with a given complainant and would carry out one, or more, of the following acts: rub the complainants' leg and groin area, touch the complainants' genital area, place the complainants' hands on the Appellant's genitals, force the complainants to masturbate him, attempt to force the complainants to perform oral sex or, on one occasion, attempt to put his penis into the complainant's anus. The offences occurred, for the most part, in circumstances either where the Appellant had been invited into the family home of a complainant or in situations where the Appellant would have spent some time driving a complainant around in his car, giving him sweets, and, in some cases, money, alcohol, and cigarettes, before or after the offences occurred. The Appellant, on a number of occasions, threatened the complainants with the wrath of God in order to stop them telling their parents or other parties about the said offences.


The appellant, when he came before the court for sentencing, was 74 years of age. It is of some significance that there is available to the court a report from the Granada Institute dealing with contact with that body in 2000; and there was also contact at an earlier stage back in 1995 with Stroud, which as the court understands it is a facility run by a religious order which seeks to offer assistance to members of the religious community who have experienced difficulties. It was apparently established first to deal with people with alcohol problems but in time evolved to offering support to those who had offended or been tempted to offend in a sexual context.


In terms of the circumstances of the appellant, he has been out of ministry since 1986 and he applied for and was laicised in 2002. He spent a period of time in England working as a taxi driver and on the underground, and then moved to Brazil. In Brazil he taught English, but it was stressed on his behalf that he taught English to adults and not to...

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