DPP v R.C.

JudgeMr. Justice Edwards
Judgment Date14 February 2023
Neutral Citation[2023] IECA 33
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
Docket NumberRecord No: 243/2021

In the Matter of an Application Pursuant to Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993

The People (At the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions)

[2023] IECA 33

Birmingham P.

Edwards J.

McCarthy J.

Record No: 243/2021


JUDGMENT of the Court delivered on the 14th day of February, 2023 by Mr. Justice Edwards.


The subject of the present appeal is an application made by the Director of Public Prosecutions (i.e. “the applicant”) pursuant to s. 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993 to the effect that the sentence imposed by McDermott J. at the Central Criminal Court on the 30th of November 2021 on R.C. (i.e. “the respondent”), he having been convicted on the 29th of June 2021 of 72 counts of different sexual offending against the complainant, who was then aged between 8 and 18 years, was unduly lenient.


The 72 counts of sexual offending, on which the respondent was convicted, comprised:

  • (i) 48 counts of sexual assault contrary to s. 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990 (as amended) (“the Act of 1990) (Counts Nos 1 to 21 inclusive and 25 to 51 inclusive on the indictment);

  • (ii) 13 counts of rape contrary to s. 4 of the Act of 1990 (Counts Nos 23, 24 and 52 to 62 inclusive on the indictment); and

  • (iii) 11 counts of rape contrary to s. 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981 (as amended) as provided for by s. 48 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (Count Nos 22 and 66 to 75 inclusive on the indictment).


The impugned sentence is one of an effective and global 7 years' imprisonment. It technically consists of two sentences, to run concurrently. The first sentence, in respect of each of the 48 counts of s. 2 sexual assault, is one of 5 years' imprisonment, with the final year thereof suspended. The second sentence, in respect of each of the counts of s. 4 and s. 2 rapes, is one of 10 years' imprisonment, with the final 3 years thereof suspended. Both sentences run from the date of conviction, the 29th of June 2021. The conditions attaching to the part suspensions, as described in the Rule of Court, are that for a period of 5 years from the date of his release from prison, the respondent shall

  • “(i) keep the peace and be of good behaviour towards all the people of Ireland;

  • (ii) remain under the supervision of the Probation service and keep all appointments and comply with all lawful directions of his Probation Officer;

  • (iii) have no contact with the complainant or any member of her family either directly or indirectly through third parties, or by social media, telephone, or otherwise;

  • (iv) not be or remain in the company of any child under the age of eighteen years except under the supervision and company of another adult;

  • (v) prior to release from prison, advise his Probation Officer of the address at which he will reside upon release and further advise his Probation Officer prior to any change of that address;

  • (vi) come up if called upon to do so to serve the portion of the sentence this day imposed but suspended on his entering into this recognizance”

Factual background as established by the complainant's evidence given at trial

The court has already summarised the facts of the case in its earlier judgement in relation to the appellant's appeal against his conviction — see The People (Director of Public Prosecutions v. R.C. [2023] IECA 4 — and this judgment may be read in conjunction with that judgment. The trial before the jury in the Central Criminal Court was presided over by Stewart J. However, the appellant was sentenced in that court by McDermott J. In circumstances where McDermott J. had not presided at the trial, a précis of the evidence at trial was provided to him at the sentencing hearing through the evidence of Garda Raymond Doyle.


Garda Doyle confirmed that at the date of the sentencing hearing on the 22nd of November 2021 the accused was aged 77. The victim in the case was born in 1983 (making her circa 39 years younger than the accused). The events to which the indictment related occurred between May 1991 and May 2001 during which time the victim was aged between 8 and 18 years of age. During that time the accused was in a relationship with the victim's mother.


The crimes giving rise to the charges occurred in three locations. As was already outlined in some detail in this court's judgment in the conviction appeal, the victim, originally from village A, moved briefly to live with her grandmother in village B before moving to an address in village C shortly before starting primary school and there resided with her mother in a small one-story council house consisting of two bedrooms, a little kitchen, and a garage, all under one roof. She lived at this address until she was 15 years of age and started transition year at a convent secondary school, whereupon she moved to stay with her aunt and uncle, their two sons and daughter at their home, near the victim's grandmother's house, in village B for the purpose of residing close to the school. After transition year, the victim boarded at the said school until the completion of her Leaving Certificate. The victim's mother, once the victim had moved to stay with her aunt and uncle, moved to a dwelling-house in village D, ownership of which the victim's mother shared with the respondent.


Notwithstanding the length of the relationship between the respondent and the victim's mother, the respondent did not reside with the complainant's mother or the victim before the end of the victim's transition year, instead visiting the pair's home in village C every evening from Monday to Friday.


Garda Doyle related how the victim had testified before the trial court that from when she was eight or nine (after her communion) she would be left alone in the company of the respondent when her mother would have to go out. She recalled that on one occasion she was wearing a dress and he began touching her vagina over her clothes. The victim's evidence had been that she froze but knew that it wasn't right. This then began to happen on a regular basis, once or twice a week.


Her evidence was that the respondents abuse progressed from touching her outside her clothes to touching her inside her clothes. From that, it progressed to the respondent attempting to put his finger inside her vagina. Her evidence was that she pushed him away and for the first couple of times he attempted to do so he didn't succeed. However, he eventually did succeed. The victim's evidence was that it hurt her and she would tell him to stop but that he wouldn't.


Garda Doyle related that the victim went on to testify that after some time the abuse progressed from him touching her to making her touch him. He would take her hand and make her touch his penis. On other occasions he would touch her vagina, put his hand inside her vagina and also touch her breasts. This would happen in various rooms in the house in village C on occasions when her mother was out, and the respondent was minding the victim. She was abused in this way regularly and said in evidence “any opportunity he got basically” he would touch her in some way or another.


The victim told the jury that her abuse progressed from there to instances of rape and oral rape. These commenced when she was about 12 years of age. He would make her perform oral sex on him and he would have sex with her. Again, this would happen in the house in village C and she described it is happening “a lot”, i.e. on a regular basis.


The victim had respite from being abused during her transition year when she lived with her uncle and aunt. However, her evidence was that once she had become a boarder in secondary school (after her transition year) she regularly visited and stayed over with her mother and the respondent at the house in village D at weekends, and during school holidays.


The victim also described how her sexual abuse was not limited to occurring at her home in village C, but rather that it resumed after her transition year at the home of the respondent and her mother in village D when she would visit and stay over all on the weekends. The victim described how the worst instances of her sexual abuse were not limited to instances of vaginal intercourse but included anal intercourse as well. The victim estimated that the instances of anal intercourse numbered “maybe less than 10 times, but it did happen quite a few times”. She would later recall in her testimony that if the respondent did not succeed in having sex one way, he would do it the other way.


The victim indicated at trial that her reaction to the respondent's behaviour was one of fear:

“I was afraid. I was afraid. I was scared. I –


I was petrified.”


Prosecuting counsel had asked the victim in examination-in-chief if the respondent said or did anything to increase her fear, and in response to this query, the victim replied:

“He had – he used to go shooting and he had guns in the bedroom in [all village D], his main bedroom. And if I was crying or – crying and screaming and pleading with him to stop, he'd just point at the case and say that he had those there. In other words, like, you know, ‘I'll kill you if you don't do it, what I ask you to do.’


And I was afraid. I knew, because I had seen them on numerous occasions and I knew that they were there.”


Garda Doyle described how the victim had testified that on the occasions, during the time that she was boarding at secondary school, when she would stay over at the house in village D on weekends, the respondent would drive her back to school on Monday mornings. She had recalled how they would leave the house in village D early in the morning, at around 7:30am, and he would bring her to a cream-coloured mobile home that he owned in a location near village B which was on the route to the...

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