Belfast Telegraph

Serial rapist's jail term reduced to six years after Belfast court rules 10-year sentence was 'manifestly excessive'

A serial rapist has failed in a bid to overturn his convictions for a catalogue of sex attacks on his younger sister.

But the Court of Appeal in Belfast ruled that a minimum 10-year jail sentence imposed on him was manifestly excessive.

Judges ordered that he should instead serve at least six years behind bars before being considered for release.

In 2015 the man, referred to only as WL and now in his fifties, was convicted of eight counts of rape and eight indecent assaults at Newry Crown Court.

The offences related to attacks on his sister in the family home from 1978 to 1991, when she was aged between 5-18.

She had been subjected to a litany of assaults accompanied by threats and violence, the court heard.

Police launched an investigation after being alerted in 2012, with some other siblings subsequently testifying in support of the prosecution.

A key issue at the trial was the admission of bad character evidence of WL's previous sexual convictions. These included:

  • Raping a woman in October 1992 which involved twisting her arm up her back, punching her and forcibly removing her underwear
     
  • An indecent assault in November 1992 when he ordered a woman to remove her clothes and perform a sex act on him at gunpoint
     
  • A rape in March 1993 where the victim was punched, threatened and stripped
     
  • With DNA evidence linking him to all three attacks, WL pleaded guilty to those offences

But during his appeal against being convicted of raping his sister, he claimed he was innocent of the other charges and only made admissions to obtain a lesser sentence.

His legal team centred their challenge on claims the bad character evidence undermined the fairness of the trial.

They also contended that jurors were misdirected on issues about WL's sister having allegedly complained of being sexually abused to her mother, doctors and a social worker.

However, Madam Justice McBride held that the safety of the verdict was not called into question by the trial judge's handling of the case.

Dealing with the appeal against sentence, she pointed that WL has also served another prison term imposed at Woolwich Crown Court for the other, unrelated sex offences.

"We are satisfied that when totality is taken into account the tariff of 10 years was manifestly excessive," the judge said.

Reducing the tariff to a minimum six years in jail, she stressed: "He will only be released if and when the Parole Commissioners are satisfied that it is appropriate to release him having regard to the need to ensure the safety of the public."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph