A Leitrim man who sexually abused and raped a boy in his community has had his eight year prison sentence upheld by the Court of Appeal yesterday, Tuesday, November 14.
Damien Reilly (40), of Bredagh, Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim, had pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of sexual assault and five counts of rape. The victim was aged between nine and approximately 14 while Reilly was aged between 17 and 22 at the time which occurred between 1994 and 2000.
He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy on January 11, 2017.
Reilly lost an appeal against his sentence yesterday with the Court of Appeal holding that, given the circumstances of the case, an eight-year custodial term was within the sentencing judge's discretion.
Counsel for Reilly, Hugh Hartnett SC, told the court that it could be described as an old case but there was a guilty plea at the earliest available opportunity.
Mr Hartnett said the sentencing judge indicated a headline sentence of 12 years and that it was usual to allow one-third or one-quarter off the headline sentence in recognition of a guilty plea.
He said the sentencing judge made reference to other mitigating factors such as Reilly's omissions while in garda custody, the fact he suffered what was called a “stroke” at the age of seven, that he was “well spoken of”, had contributed to his community and had not been in trouble before or since these offences.
However, the sentencing judge did not seem to take these other mitigating factors into account, Mr Hartnett submitted. He submitted that the sentencing judge started at twelve and took one-third off for the plea which was “clearly appropriate” given the time the guilty plea was entered – at the earliest available opportunity, counsel stressed.
Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said Reilly's lawyers were reading too much or “too little”, as it might be more appropriately termed, into the sentencing judge's remarks.
Mr Justice Mahon said the sentencing judge did not suggest he would discount the sentence by as much as one-third merely for the guilty plea. He had clearly referred to the totality of factors and it was evident that the discount of four years was intended to reflect all mitigating factors.
The Court of Appeal therefore rejected the submission that mitigating factors other than the guilty plea were not calculated into the sentence.
Mr Justice Mahon added that all sexual crimes were serious and a significantly serious aspect of this case was that much of the offending was of a “particularly grave nature” which continued over a long number of years. It was perpetrated on a young child while Reilly was in a position of trust and the sentence had to include a lengthy custodial term, the judge said.
Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan and Mr Justice George Birmingham, said the sentence may represent the outer limit of what was appropriate but was within the discretion of the sentencing judge. The appeal was dismissed.