DPP v Power


[2014] IECA 37


Birmingham J.

Sheehan J.

Mahon J.


The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Owen Power

Criminal law - Appeal against severity of sentence – Rape - Mental health background of appellant - Whether error of principle - Factors of consideration when arriving at appropriate sentence

Judgment of the Court (ex tempore) delivered on the 28th day of November 2014, by Mr. Justice Birmingham

In this case the appellant, Mr. Owen Power, appeals against the severity of a sentence that was imposed upon him in the Central Criminal Court on the 2nd December, 2013. The sentenced under appeal is one of ten years imprisonment with the final three years suspended and there is also provision made for eighteen months post release supervision. The sentence was backdated to the 22nd July, 2013 being the date he went into custody, and it should be noted that at this stage that the sentence was one that followed a contested trial which concluded with the conviction of the appellant in respect of the offence of rape.


In very brief summary the facts are these. On the 4th February, 2012 the complainant, Ms. M., who was aged 19 at the time, travelled to Wexford with her father and his partner. There she met up with a friend of hers, Ms. A., and went out socialising with her. Through Ms. A, she met up with a group of Ms. A.'s friends, including the appellant. Ms. A. and the appellant had never met before then. There is no indication whatsoever of any romantic engagement or involvement or attraction or still less any intimacy between Ms. A. and the appellant during the course of the evening. It seems that a significant amount of alcohol was consumed by those who were socialising.


At about 3.00am Ms. M., her friend Ms. A, the appellant and another young man all went to an apartment in Windmill Heights, which was an apartment owned by the partner of the mother of Ms. A. Ms. M. says that by this stage, all she wanted to do was to go to bed. She went to the bedroom that she was to occupy, got into her pyjamas and went to sleep immediately. At trial, and this was a point of some significance, there was evidence that Ms. A. saw the appellant going to the room where Ms. M. was and told him to get out.


The next event of significance is that Ms. M. woke to feel hands on her genital area and breasts. She felt her vagina being penetrated and she screamed “you raped me, you raped me”. She pushed the appellant out of the way and went to the room of her friend Ms. A. She then rang her father and asked him to come to her as he was needed by her. He came and he apparently punched the appellant and sought to detain him.


At that stage, rather remarkably, the appellant went off to the garda station to complain that he had been assaulted by the complainant's father and that, as the Court understands it, was the first indication the gardaí had that anything untoward or controversial had occurred at Windmill Heights.


At the garda station the appellant was in a clearly intoxicated state and he was still there in the vicinity of the garda station when the gardaí became aware that there was an allegation that a rape had taken place. He was arrested and when the doctor certified him as fit for interview, he was interviewed and he confirmed that sexual intercourse had taken place and said that it was consensual.


A trial took place in July 2013, the verdict was returned on the 22nd July and sentence was then adjourned to the 23rd November, 2013, when the substantive sentence hearing took place and the finalisation of sentence occurred on the 2nd December, 2013.


A victim impact report was prepared in advance of the sentence hearing. It must be said immediately, that this rape has had a very serious effect and indeed a long term effect on the injured party. A measure of that is, that...

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