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  1. D.P.P. v. R. McC.

Case number:           CCA18


Case title:                 D.P.P. v. R. McC.


Date:                          May 12th, 2005


Neutral Citation:    [2005] IECCA 71


Judgment:                Fennelly J.


Composition of the Court: Fennelly J., Lavan J., Macken J.


Keywords: Rape – Daughters and nieces – Concurrent life sentences – Early guilty plea – Section 29 Criminal Justice Act 1999 – Maximum sentences.



The applicant was tried on an indictment containing 43 counts of rape,  attempted rape, sexual assault and assault against six different female victims, all of whom were children. Two of them were the applicant’s daughters. The other four were his nieces. The offences took place over eleven years.


The trial judge imposed eight concurrent life sentences in respect of the rape counts and concurrent terms of four years imprisonment in respect of the sexual assault counts. The sole issue in the appeal against sentence was whether the trial judge erred in principle in respect of the sentences imposed for the rape counts, in particular, in failing to discount the sentences in the light of an early plea of guilty.


The Court held that the crime of rape was one of the most serious and other than in exceptional circumstances it merited a custodial sentence. A trial judge was not bound to take as his starting point whether a custodial sentence should be imposed. (DPP v N. Y. unreported 19th December 2002 and DPP v G.D. unreported 13th July 2004 considered).


The Court also considered DPP v D. unreported 21st April 2004 which, it held, indicated that s. 29 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 had heralded a departure from earlier case law which suggested that it was an error in principle to fail to give credit for an early plea and expression of remorse for even the most heinous sexual offences.


The Court noted that there was an aggravating factor in this case in that the accused had had the opportunity to amend his behaviour following confrontation by his wife and the intervention of a priest and had failed to do so.


The Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the sentences.