On November 24th, 2017, I was watching the RTE news when a relation to the pensioner siblings Willie, Flora and Chrissie Creed who suffered a brutal attack by three men who broke into their home in rural Ireland. The relative spoke about his feelings on the combined 46-year sentence the perpetrators received. He said that he was extremely happy and believed that the sentence sent out a clear statement that society would not tolerate these crimes.
When I watched the man speaking I couldn’t help but compare the poor sentencing policies we appear to have in relation to sex offences and how society does anything but send out a message that we will not tolerate these particular crimes.
In an article written by Donal O’Keefe www.thejournal.ie in July of 2017, he reported on the case of Magnus Meyer Hustveit who had confessed to regularly raping his girlfriend for over one year while she slept. The Judge Mr Patrick Mc Carthy actually said before suspending the entire seven-year sentence that if it had not been for Hustveit’s confession there might not have been a prosecution at all.
Why as a society are we not outraged by Judges that are afforded the rights to pass sentencing on crimes that they clearly have no idea of the lifelong impacts they have on their victims.
The Irish Times also reported on the case of former Christian Brother teacher, James Treacy who received a 3.5-year sentence for what was reported as barbaric sexual assaults on boys in his class.
On October 24th 2017 in a highly published case of Tom Humphries a former Irish Times Journalist the Judge Karen O’Connor showed inappropriate empathy when handing down a 2.5 year sentence of which Humphries will serve one year, seven months, and seven days for defilement of a child and grooming her for two years when she was only 14 years old.
Again on November 15th, 2017 the Irish Times reported on a case of David Radford who received a 3 and a half year sentence for sexual assault. David had 15 previous convictions, three of which had been for sexually assaulting women in random attacks dating back as far as 2010 when he was only 14 years old. Another example of a Judge having no idea of what he is doing for the victim of the perpetrator.
My point in highlighting these cases is to demonstrate the urgent need for Judges and all who manage sexual abuse cases to take part in mandatory training on the crimes of abuse and its complexities. It is not only vital that they understand the damage they cause by sending out such lenient sentences to the victims but also the perpetrators. The 14-year-old who comes in front of the courts needs counselling to ensure that the cycle of abuse stops. By either suspending or handing down such ridiculous sentences the judicial system can be accurately accused of colluding or at the very least supporting those who prey on children.
We are all equally responsible for allowing this behaviour to continue by staying quiet and if we want a society that values our children we must speak out. If we can take to the streets because of the unjust call for paying water taxes surely we can do something to demonstrate our outrage at the systems that allow messages to be sent out that if you harm a child you can expect a slap on the wrist at best.
Paula November 30th 2017