A 29-year-old Dublin man will be free after committing sexual crimes against a 17-year-old girl in Dublin as long as he pays $20,000. The final sentencing for his crimes has many concerned that Ireland’s guidelines for punishment of such crimes are in need of revision.
The attacker in this case will not face any prison or court-ordered rehabilitation, but rather will only be required to pay out a fee to his victim, reports the Irish Times.
The attacker, Graham Griffiths of Co Louth, was allegedly sexually abused as a child, and has a criminal record that shows he has been violent in the past. Griffiths is a native of Dublin, but has been living with his girlfriend, whom he plans to marry, in Louth for the past six years.
The crime took place on April 17, 2011 when Griffiths approached and attacked a 17-year-old girl he met inside a chipper. The girl had attempted to flee, but Griffiths pinned her to the ground before sexually assaulting her, and then walking away.
Griffiths would tell gardai that he was “under some magnetic force” and “it must have been the hormones” that led him to attack the girl. He was also at a party the night before where he consumed an excessive amount of hallucinogenic drugs and alcohol, which he said caused him to lose touch with reality.
A victim impact report handed in to the court said the victim had attended counselling every two weeks for the last six months and still suffered flashbacks and had trouble sleeping.
Griffiths pled guilty to his crimes at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The presiding Judge Martin Nolan handed down a four-year sentence, but suspended it in full on conditions including that Griffiths pay $20,000 to his victim within one year “to bring home the seriousness of what he has done.”
He added that if the girl did not want to receive the money, the court would decide where it would go.
Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, told The Journal that “a lot of people are calling the 24-hour helpline very upset” after Wednesday’s sentencing of Griffiths, which she described as “very worrying.”
“What we would say is that it certainly doesn’t give out a good message that justice has been delivered,” said O’Malley-Dunlop, who added that Griffiths won’t be added to the sex offenders list.
“It would really be helpful to avoid this sort of [situation],” she said, calling for established guidelines in the sentencing process for sexuall-violent crimes.
O’Malley-Dunlop went on to point out the benefits of placing a criminal in prison, with one being the opportunity for rehabilitation: “If he were sentenced to prison, at least he would have rehabilitation available to him, because of rehab programmes available in prison. Prison is not just about punishment, it is also about rehabilitation.”
A spokeswoman for the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Cliona Saidlear, was not happy with the sentencing from Judge Nolan either. Saidlear said, “Mr Griffiths seems to have a hatred of women and said he wanted to bring the victim down to his level. For us in the RCNI, this shows the man has an unhealthy attitude towards women, which was not brought on by drugs.”
Griffiths’ mother told Judge Nolan that as a child, her son was both sexually assaulted and raped by a distant relative. The man has several previous convictions, four of which are assault causing harm.
“Here’s someone who would benefit from probation and access to perpetrators treatment programmes. He seems to have a range of psychological and social problems and they should be addressed,” added Saidlear.