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Covid impact Abuse survivors' campaigner says delaying jury trials will cause 'extra distress' to victims

"This delay is going to cause extra distress. People simply cannot not move on until they see a conviction.”

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Abuse survivor Shaneda Daly

Abuse survivor Shaneda Daly

Abuse survivor Shaneda Daly

A campaigner for abuse survivors has said delaying jury trials due to Covid restrictions will be “catastrophic” for victims of sexual abuse and rape.

Measures taken to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in the Central Criminal Court, which deals with cases of murder, rape, and serious sexual offences, have meant that jury trials are on hold.

In one case before the court a defendant who has been charged with attempted murder will now not stand trial for over two years because of a court backlog.

Shaneda Daly, who lives in Co Kildare, set up a support group for victims of sexual assault and abuse called Survivors Side By Side four years ago.

Shaneda has previously spoken out about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, Harry Daly, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison 2011.

In total, ex-prison officer Harry admitted guilt to 227 charges, 103 of indecent assault and 24 of sexual assault.

Shaneda said the fact that cases going forward could be delayed by an extra two years as “catastrophic” for victims of sexual abuse and rape who already go through mental trauma.

"One thing about victims is that for most of them, especially if it’s childhood sexual abuse, your abuser is still around you.

“And then, waiting that long, you cannot put it to bed.

"You can't forget about it until you get to court.

"And then it’s an average of two to three years for anybody to get to court. I know people that are waiting like six or seven years and now, with this on top of it, it’s just ridiculous.”

She added: “I think there should be more services available to victims, mental health services especially, to help them.

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"They’re sitting around waiting and it’s something that they’re going to think about every single day until it's done with.

"So this delay is going to cause extra distress, one hundred per cent. People simply cannot not move on until they see a conviction.”

A spokesman for the Courts Service said: "Central Criminal Court trials have been delayed since the return of the courts in January due to the high incidence of Covid-19.

"Courts had been hearing jury trials between August and Christmas and various measures have been taken to avoid a build-up of cases."

He added: "The courts stand ready to restart jury trials once it has been advised safe to do so."

Noeline Blackwell, Chief Executive Officer of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre today told the Sunday World that priority should be given to cases where the victims have been traumatised.

"While we understand why jury trials cannot go ahead at the moment, the reality for many victims of sexual crime is that they have to face their abuser for even longer than they had expected.

"So often, the crime has happened in their home, their place of work, their local community.

"Every criminal trial is important but we call for those responsible for scheduling trials when they start up again to those where the victims are subject to serious trauma as is usually the case in sexual offence cases."

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