Twelve-year sentence for man who raped schoolgirl twice at birthday party 'too severe', court told
The victim had been attending O’Mara’s sister’s birthday party at the time of the attacks
A judge erred when she handed down a 12-year jail term to a man who had twice raped a teenage schoolgirl at an 18th birthday party, the Court of Appeal was told today.
Richard O'Mara (33), formerly of Walnut Avenue, Kingswood, Tallaght, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape at Ballymulcashel, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, on October 18, 2015.
However, he was convicted of both counts by a jury at the Central Criminal Court following a trial in April 2019 and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment with the final two years suspended by Ms Justice Tara Burns.
The victim had been attending O’Mara’s sister’s birthday party at the time of the attacks.
The first rape had taken place in field close to a house where the party was being held, and the second occurred in the house after the guests had left.
O’Mara has launched an appeal against the length of his sentence after previously losing a bid to have the conviction quashed.
At the Court of Appeal today, Michael Delaney SC, for O’Mara, told the court that the custodial term handed down to his client by Ms Justice Burns had been “very severe”.
“The real question here, was there a degree of violence or humiliation involved in this case to take the headline sentence beyond the norm?” he said, adding that the rape in the field “did not involve any degree of force or violence”.
Mr Delaney also took exception to the trial judge’s claim that there had been almost no mitigating factors in the case.
He said his client had been of previous good character, and was without previous convictions, when he came before the court and had therefore been entitled to greater reduction in his sentence.
Maurice Coffey SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the State’s position was there had been no error in sentencing.
“There are elements to this case which are quite disturbing,” he continued.
The victim, Mr Coffey said, had been left with injuries following the assaults.
“She was left in a very distressed state, and essentially she was raped again,” he added.
Mr Coffey said the appellant was “significantly older” than his victim, whom he had “lured” under false pretences out of the house “to do what he wanted to her”.
This, he said, meant there was an element pre-meditation to the first rape.
Counsel also said the girl had also been subjected to violence and humiliation when the appellant pushed her down on to the ground in the field before raping her.
A sentence of greater than 10 years was clearly justified when all the fact of the case were considered, Mr Coffey said.
Judgement was reserved.
During O’Mara’s trial, Garda David Lang told Mr Coffey, prosecuting, the victim had been a guest at a party at O'Mara's family home when she was raped.
Gda Lang said the victim got talking to O'Mara, who was aged 27 at the time, and he led her by the hand out onto a public road.
She asked where she was being brought and he said he was taking her to a friend's house.
O'Mara led her into a field and pushed her onto the ground.
He held her down, took off her trousers and underwear and raped her.
The victim was crying and shaking her head throughout and O'Mara whispered in her ear “I know you want it.”
Afterwards he told her not to tell anyone what had happened and they went back to the house to discover that most people had left and he said he could not order a taxi for her.
She lay down on a couch in the living room and began crying.
O'Mara entered the room and sat down on the couch.
He forced her head into the pillow, pulled her hair and told her to shut up. He then pulled off her jeans and underwear and raped her again, falling asleep after he was finished.
The following morning he ordered a taxi for her and again told her not to tell anyone what had happened.
The court was told the victim was in her final year in secondary school at the time of the offences.
Gda Lang agreed with Mr Delaney, defending, that O'Mara was now married and has two children, but has no contact with one child.
Mr Delaney said that his client had a stent implanted in his heart in 2017 and that he requires regular monitoring.
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