Fury as judges cut jail term of man who raped Belfast gran in car due to 'lack of gratuitous violence'
The reduction of a rapist's jail term has been heavily criticised by sex abuse victims' groups.
The appeal to cut Lucasz Artur Kubik's nine-year jail term by two years for raping a grandmother in an east Belfast car park hinged largely on the lack of evidence that the attack involved gratuitous violence.
Senior judges yesterday found in the Polish man's favour and cut his term to seven years, half of which will be served on licence.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan held there was nothing to show the 31-year-old posed a significant risk of inflicting serious harm from similar offending.
He said: "There was no material to indicate that this was other than a single impulsive act."
Kubik had returned to the Court of Appeal to challenge his sentence after failing in an earlier bid to overturn his conviction.
He was handed his nine-year term after being found guilty of raping and sexually assaulting the victim (52) in January 2013.
The woman told how she had been attacked as she made her way home from a relative's house in the early hours of the morning.
While attempting to get a taxi, she spoke to a group of women and Kubik, who claimed to be a French man named Chris.
With no credit on her phone, the victim agreed to go to their house to call for a lift home.
She said that as they walked, the other women disappeared after Kubik shouted something to them in a foreign language. He then asked if she wanted to work for him, adding: "I'll show you."
At that stage he raped and molested her against a parked car.
Although she repeatedly told him she was a grandmother, he persisted with the attack before running off.
Following his arrest Kubik, who has lived in Northern Ireland since 2006, denied any sexual contact with the victim.
He then changed his account to allege the pair's encounter was consensual, claiming he did not want his girlfriend to discover he had cheated on her.
Ruling on Kubik's appeal against the sentence, Sir Declan accepted the attack involved violence, but not of a gratuitous type.
Turning to the issue of dangerousness, the Lord Chief Justice held that Kubik's actions were driven by alcohol and opportunism rather than premeditation.
"Rape is a very serious offence," he said. "It does not follow, however, that every perpetrator represents a significant risk of serious harm by the commission of similar offences.
"We consider that it has not been demonstrated in this case that there is a significant risk of serious harm from similar offending."
On that basis the court imposed a new seven-year sentence, split between three-and-a-half years in custody and the rest of the term of licence.
Eileen Kelly, a former long-time volunteer with the now defunct Rape Crisis Centre, which lost its funding 10 years ago, said she thought the views expressed in the judgment were offensive.
Ms Kelly, who is still a counsellor for victims of sex abuse, insisted the judgment was insulting "to quite a lot of women and to men in general".
"To say that men can't control themselves and that they act impulsively like this is quite insulting to men," she added.
"The reality is that sexual crimes are not carried out in an impulsive manner.
"A man who does this first has to isolate his victim and then he makes sure he is in as much control as possible
"To suggest there was no violence, from this judge's point of view, reiterates what we have been saying for a long time - that this view is very out of touch with the true impact of a rape on a woman and how it will affect the rest of her life.
"Everything this woman does in future - how she lives in society, when she goes out - she will be wondering about what she does that could make a man act 'impulsively'.
"Who is to say that this man won't act impulsively again in the future?
"The fact that this man will be let out and be back on the streets much sooner is very concerning.
"It's that argument that a woman should curtail her behaviour, from what she does to how she looks, and basically they should never be on their own with a man in case he does this.
"I would have thought those ideas would be dead."
Pam Hunter, chief executive of Nexus NI, a group that helps victims of sexual abuse including rape, added: "I wouldn't say just women, but everybody should be outraged by this, considering 20% of Nexus clients are men."
She thought that the ruling was particularly contradictory in light of a special crimes unit that was launched just last month, which is made up of senior prosecutors and is designed to secure more convictions in murder and rape cases.
The initiative followed concern over the falling numbers of rape cases being sent to the Crown Court for trial - 83 convictions between 2009 and 2013 - despite rising complaints to police.
"I know the justice system is trying to place fewer people in jails, but for a crime of this seriousness, I would second-guess this verdict, especially in light of the new crimes unit," the Nexus boss said. "It also sends the wrong message. A lot of our clients in Nexus don't want the trauma of going to court, and this discourages them all the more from going to court in the first place."