A judge erred when she handed down a 12-year jail term to a man who had twice raped a teenage schoolgirl at an 18th birthday party, the Court of Appeal was told on Tuesday.
Richard O'Mara (33), formerly of Walnut Avenue, Kingswood, Tallaght, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape at Ballymulcashel, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare on October 18th, 2015.
However, he was convicted of both counts by a jury at the Central Criminal Court following a trial in April 2019 and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment with the final two years suspended by Ms Justice Tara Burns.
The victim had been attending the birthday party of O’Mara’s sister at the time of the attacks.
The first incident had taken place in a field close to the house where the party was being held, while the second occurred in the house after the guests had left.
O’Mara has launched an appeal against the length of his sentence after previously losing a bid to have the conviction quashed.
At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Michael Delaney SC, for O’Mara, told the court the custodial term handed down to his client by Ms Justice Burns had been “very severe”.
'Beyond the norm'
“The real question here, was there a degree of violence or humiliation involved in this case to take the headline sentence beyond the norm?” he said, adding the rape in the field “did not involve any degree of force or violence”.
Mr Delaney also took exception to the trial judge’s claim there had been almost no mitigating factors in the case.
He said his client had been of previous good character and was without previous convictions when he came before the court and had therefore been entitled to greater reduction in his sentence.
Maurice Coffey SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said the State’s position was there had been no error in sentencing.
“There are elements to this case which are quite disturbing,” he continued.
The victim, Mr Coffey said, had been left with injuries following the assaults.
“She was left in a very distressed state, and essentially she was raped again,” he added.
Mr Coffey said the appellant was “significantly older” than his victim, whom he had “lured” under false pretences out of the house “to do what he wanted to her”.
This, he said, meant there was an element pre-meditation to the first incident.
Counsel also said the girl had been subjected to violence and humiliation when the appellant pushed her down on to the ground in the field before raping her.
A sentence of greater than 10 years was clearly justified when all the fact of the case were considered, Mr Coffey said.
Judgement in the case was reserved.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.