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order lifted Child rape victim wins legal battle to have her attacker named

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A general view of the Four Courts in Dublin, Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

A general view of the Four Courts in Dublin, Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

A general view of the Four Courts in Dublin, Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

A victim of child rape has successfully won an 18 month legal battle to have her rapist named, after a court made a gagging order preventing him from being identified.

The Court of Appeal has overturned a court order preventing the media from naming child rapist Declan Hannon.

Hannon, now aged 50, was convicted of four counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault at locations on unknown dates between 1987 and 1989 in Co Wicklow.

His trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that he first raped the girl during a game of hide-and-seek when she was approximately nine years old and he was 17 years old. He raped her three more times during that summer and told her not to tell anyone as it was their secret.

The victim in this case, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has asked to waive her right to anonymity so that her attacker can be named.

The Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981 allows publication of the name of a person convicted of rape, providing it does not identify the victim.

Hannon of Ramsgate Village, Gorey, Co Wexford, was sentenced to seven years in prison in May 2019.

But at his sentence hearing, Mr Justice Michael White made an order that reporting restrictions applied and that no information which could lead to the identification of the complainant, including the identity of the accused, could be published.

The trial judge later refused to lift the order in circumstances where the DPP waited until after the trial had finished before asking for the reporting restriction to be lifted, finding that the court's mandate to decide on the matter had expired.

The man's defence lawyers had also argued that there is no provision in law for a victim of sexual assault to waive their right to anonymity.

The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the judge's order preventing publication of the man's identity.

The President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham yesterday said the judge's order preventing publication of the man's name was "superfluous" as the law already dictates that the media cannot identify the injured party.

He therefore said he would "remove any reference in a court order to an ongoing restriction on the identification of the respondent who stands convicted of the very serious criminal offences that he does”.

Ms Justice Una Ni Raifeartaigh and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy agreed with the President's ruling.

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In coming to its decision the Court of Appeal noted that at the time of Mr Justice White’s order in May 2019 the victim, who is now in her 40s, was unaware that she was entitled to waive her anonymity to allow the man’s name to be published. Following a sentence hearing she informed the DPP of her wishes and the DPP applied to the judge to lift the ban.

The judge noted that an "overly-strict" view of when a judge's mandate has expired could deny an injured party the right to be heard on an issue of very major importance to them.

Speaking outside of court in 2019, the woman told reporters she was never asked by the DPP at the sentencing hearing about her wishes, and did not know she had to address the question of her anonymity.

In her victim impact statement she said she had to think long and hard about coming forward when she was approached by gardaí in 2013.

She said she had “tucked away the horror” of what had happened but ultimately decided to come forward “to right this terrible wrong.”

She described how she was a witness in the long court process with no legal representation or guidance, and had to remind herself not to get her hopes up as there was the potential for it all to go wrong.

“All I had was the truth and the knowledge I was doing the right thing,” she told the court.

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