NewsCourts

Man who abused girl spared extra jail time despite finding that his original term was too lenient

Man who abused girl spared extra jail time despite finding that his original term was too lenient

A man jailed for indecently assaulting a young girl in the 1980s will not face any extra jail time despite a finding that his original 12 month term was too “lenient”.

Seamus Buckley (57), of Ballyshonin, Berrings Co Cork, had pleaded guilty to 26 counts of indecently assaulting the girl in the early 1980s when she was aged between six and 13 and he was aged between 21 and 27.

He was sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to 12 months imprisonment on each count to run concurrently by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on February 2, 2016.

The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of Buckley's sentence today on grounds that it was “unduly lenient”. However, the Court of Appeal decided not to extend his period in custody.

Giving judgment Mr Justice George Birmingham said Buckley had been employed by the victim's father and was regarded as an “uncle type” figure.

In July 2014, the injured party contacted the gardaí and reported what had occurred. When Buckley was made aware of the allegations he consulted a solicitor and presented himself that November to a local garda station where he was interviewed and made full admissions.

It was accepted by the investigating garda that absent his admissions “this might have been a difficult case to prosecute”.

Buckley was married with four children and had no previous convictions. The DPP accepted that he had done everything he could to address the issue in a proper way once the complaint emerged but notwithstanding, the sentence was too lenient.

Mr Justice Birmingham said it was a difficult case for the sentencing judge. The age of the victim and the prolonged duration of abuse were matters of particular significance.

On the other hand, there were “powerful” mitigating factors.

In the court's view, a “more severe penalty was called for and the penalty should not have been less than two years actual imprisonment”.

But the court had stated numerous times that “it would impose a sentence less that it would have regarded as appropriate at first instance to take account of the fact that being sentenced a second time is particularly burdensome”.

Buckley had served the greater part of his sentence and was within weeks of his scheduled release date.

Mr Justice Birmingham said a question arose as to whether the interests of justice and the public interest would be served by extending his actual period in custody. The court decided “not without considerable hesitation” that it would not be an appropriate response.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan, and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, said the court would substitute for the sentence imposed in the Circuit Court, a sentence of three years imprisonment with the final two suspended.