I’m still reeling at Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan’s decision, four days ago, to suspend sentencing for a man who raped his sister-in-law. At the time, she was 14. The rapist is ten years her senior.
The judge, in his ‘wisdom’ has decided that the suffering the victim went through matters less than the suffering the man’s family would endure if he went to prison. Two of the man’s sons have autism and a third child has other medical needs.
The court has decided that it would put too much strain on the family (and, the cynical part of my brain suspects, the public purse) , if this man went to jail. So he doesn’t have to. What next? Will a judge next week or the week after decide that a successful businessman doesn’t have to go to jail because the State might miss his tax contributions?
Or might a man be kept free because to imprison him might deny his new wife the right to start a family?
I’m sitting here wondering what the criteria actually is for a judge in an Irish court to decide that a convicted criminal actually has to serve his sentence. These kinds of decisions hammer home an idea that women and children in Ireland are worth less than men. Or even just worthless, full stop.
The potential difficulties that this rapist’s family might encounter is deemed to be worse than the real and actual harm that has been done – and continues to be done – to the victim. The trauma that she has had to deal with on her own, is not deemed to be worth as much as the potential suffering that the rapist’s wife and children might endure.
I can’t help but wonder why the judge is so overly concerned with this man’s family when the man himself didn’t give much thought to them when he was busy raping his wife’s underage sister.
As for Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan’s assertion that the rapist has ‘self-rehabilitated’? I have two words – evidence, please? Research leads us to believe that men who get away with raping – as this man effectively has – don’t stop.
What about the victim, though? Surely, those of us who go to court put ourselves through that awful experience because we are seeking justice? What justice has she received?
Newspaper coverage of the case is here.