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Man sentenced to life for sex assault
[Posted: Tue 23/01/2007 www.irishhealth.com]
By Deborah Condon
A 45-year-old man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the sexual assault of a young woman in Dublin. The sentence has been strongly welcomed by the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI).
Gerard Kelly of no fixed abode admitted to sexually assaulting the 22-year-old woman in September, 2004. Mr Kelly had only been released from prison five months before the assault, where he had been serving a 10-year sentence for raping another woman.
He attacked the young woman as she walked alone in an area in south Dublin. The assault lasted over an hour. He was later arrested after Gardai noticed similarities between the attack and a rape he had committed in the 1990s.
The court was told that Mr Kelly had also previously been jailed for eight years in England for rape and aggravated burglary. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr Justice Carney.
According to the RCNI, sentences which signal that sexual violence is treated seriously in our society 'are extremely important'.
"The sad fact is that Ireland's criminal justice system is poorly equipped to deal effectively and efficiently with sexual violence crimes", said RCNI executive director, Fiona Neary.
"In 2006, 1,925 sexual offences were reported. Behind every one of those crimes there is a person who has chosen to report to the Gardai. That person is already likely to have experienced difficulty accessing a sexual assault treatment unit. They are likely to have given a statement in an interview room designed for suspects. They may have been informed if their alleged perpetrator was brought in for questioning and then nothing", she explained.
Ms Neary pointed out that victims are not generally assigned a Garda whose responsibility it is to keep them informed of the progress of the case. Therefore those who reported a case last year may not hear anything until 2008.
"In 2008, they may hear from the Gardai as to whether the DPP has decided to pursue the case or not. If the DPP decides against pursuing the case, they will hear no reasons why his office took this decision. If the case is to be pursued, they will wait another 71 weeks on average before the main hearing of the case", she said.
At this point, Ms Neary added, the victim will be expected to recall every detail of the crime and relive the trauma for the benefit of the case.
"Is it any wonder so many cases drop out of the system and never make it to court or conviction?", she asked.
If you need to talk to someone about this issue, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre runs a 24-hour helpline at 1800 77 88 88. Further information on regional services is also available at...
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