Meath man jailed for gross indecency walks free from court

A Meath man jailed for gross indecency with a man with a mental age of seven was has been released from custody after the balance of his sentence was suspended on appeal.

In the first case of its kind to come before the courts under legislation introduced in 1993, the 57-year-old man was jailed for 15 months by Judge Martin Nolan at Dublin Circuit Court in July last year and was due for release in the summer.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of gross indecency against the then 21-year-old mentally impaired victim in a Co Meath town in 2006.

The man was this afternoon released from custody after the Court of Criminal Appeal found Judge Nolan failed to have adequate regard to the mitigating circumstances in favour of the applicant.

Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, presiding, said it was quite clear that the man was not at risk of any further offending.

He said that, having regard to this factor and to the amount of time that had elapsed since the applicant first went in to custody, the court would suspend the balance of his sentence.

The court heard that the man brought his victim to a supermarket car park where they engaged in sexual acts. There was expert evidence that the victim is easily identifiable as a ‘vulnerable adult.’

Counsel for the applicant, Mr Derek Kenneally SC, had argued that Judge Nolan failed to weigh the principle of deterrence against factors in favour of the applicant, including his plea of guilty and his lack of any previous convictions.

He told the court that a significant feature of the submissions before Judge Nolan was evidence that the man was low or no risk of reoffending.

Mr Vincent Heneghan BL, for the State, told the court that Judge Nolan had attached “full weight” to the mitigating circumstances in the case, which he submitted was at the upper end of the scale of seriousness for gross indecency.

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