DPP v Stokes

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice Sheehan
Judgment Date03 March 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] IECA 69
Docket NumberNo. 229/15
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
Date03 March 2017

[2017] IECA 69

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Sheehan J.

Birmingham J.

Sheehan J.

Mahon J.

No. 229/15

The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Respondent
V
Martin Stokes
Appellant

Sentencing – Rape – Manifestly excessive sentence – Appellant seeking to appeal against sentence – Whether sentence was manifestly excessive

Facts: The appellant, Mr Stokes, was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment with the final two years of that sentence suspended for the rape of the complainant in June 2011. A similar sentence was imposed for the defilement of the complainant, she being at the time a child under the age of fifteen. Two convictions for sexual assault were also taken into consideration. All the offences occurred in the course of a single incident which happened on the 3rd June, 2011 at the Old Tuam Road, Monkland, Co. Roscommon. The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal against sentence submitting that the sentence imposed was disproportionate and excessive having regard to the circumstances of the appellant and the circumstances of the offence. In particular the appellant complained that the sentencing judge placed undue weight on the lies told by the appellant and failed to place sufficient attention to the following matters: 1) The relative youth of the appellant at the time of the offence, he being 20 when it was committed and 24 at the time of the sentence hearing; 2) He had the support of his parents and siblings; 3) He had a limited educational background with essentially primary and partial secondary school attendance; 4) He had a partial employment history with occasional employment for odd jobs; 5) He was a married man with a three year old son and he had not seen his family since he was charged with the offences; 6) He was a member of the travelling community and the charges and conviction had a serious impact on his extended family; 7) His previous convictions were not in relation to any sexual matters; 8) The offence itself did not involve any gratuitous violence or threats to kill.

Held by the Court that the excessive attention paid to the lies of the accused led to an error on the part of the sentencing judge when he identified a sentence of twelve years imprisonment as the appropriate headline sentence. In the Court’s view the proper starting point particularly having regard to the victim’s age was a sentence of ten years imprisonment. The Court held that the fact that it took four years for the offence to come to trial was grossly unfair to the victim and to the appellant whose life was also on hold following his initial arrest. This significant system failure was a factor to which the Court also had regard in considering what portion of the ten year sentence that it would impose ought to be suspended.

The Court held that in view of the delay, the young age of the appellant at the time of offence and the need to encourage his rehabilitation, it would suspend the final three years of the ten years sentence it imposed in lieu of the original sentence provided the appellant enter into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of three years following his release from prison. The Court also directed that the appellant be subject to a post release supervision order for eighteen months pursuant to the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

Appeal allowed.

JUDGMENT of the Court delivered on the 3rd day of March 2017 by Mr. Justice Sheehan
1

This appeal concerns a sentence which was imposed in a case which ran into the summer vacation in 2015. Following an eighteen day trial, the appellant was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment with the final two years of that sentence suspended for the rape of CS in June 2011. A similar sentence was imposed for the defilement of CS, she being at the time a child under the age of fifteen. Two convictions for sexual assault were also taken into consideration. All the offences occurred in the course of a...

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2 cases
  • DPP v Broughan
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 26 May 2017
    ...friend adds an extra dimension. The DPP has drawn attention to, and placed a particular emphasis on, the case of DPP v. Martin Stokes [2017] IECA 69. However, again there are a number of facts present which limits its value as a comparator. First of all, there was an 18 day trial and the ch......
  • DPP v Stokes
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 25 October 2017
    ...against conviction. 18 The Court delivered its separate judgment in the accused's appeal against his sentence on the 3rd March, 2017 ( [2017] I.E.C.A. 69). The Court was of the view that the trial judge, when reaching what he considered to be the appropriate headline sentence, had paid exce......

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