Dublin grandfather (75) has conviction for raping granddaughter quashed
A 75-year-old man has had his conviction for raping his granddaughter quashed after reports were obtained to determine whether he was fit to stand trial at the Central Criminal Court more than a year ago.
Christopher Redmond, of Rathvilly Drive, Finglas, Dublin 11, was found in recent weeks to have had a severe form of dementia for some time “with no prospect of recovery”. An earlier report, prepared prior to his trial early last year, found him to have a mild cognitive impairment but there was nothing to suggest he was unfit to be tried at that time, the Court of Appeal was told.
Redmond’s granddaughter, Leanne Murphy, spoke outside court to say she was "appalled" by the outcome. “I was unfit to be raped as a child. I didn’t have a say. I didn’t understand (why I was raped) so on the basis that that man doesn’t understand now, he gets to walk free. That is not any justice.”
Redmond had pleaded not guilty to four counts of rape and five counts of sexually assaulting his granddaughter at the Tolka Valley pitch and putt club, where Redmond worked, in Finglas on dates between January 2002 and May 2004. Ms Murphy, who waived her right to anonymity so that his details could be published, was aged between seven and nine at the time of the abuse.
He was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury following a trial in early 2018 and sentenced to five years imprisonment by Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh on April 27, 2018.
After Redmond was convicted, but before he was sentenced, he was assessed by a consultant forensic psychiatrist from the Central Mental Hospital, who found him to be suffering from a significant cognitive impairment. It was likely to have been present for a number of years, the report stated.
However, the question of whether Redmond was fit to be tried, specifically under Section 4 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, was not addressed in the report as he had already been convicted and “that ship had sailed at that point”. An earlier report, prepared prior to his trial, found him to have a mild cognitive impairment but there was nothing to suggest he was unfit to be tried at that time.
The Court of Appeal heard that Redmond did not initially respond when he was asked to plead to the first count on the indictment. He had to be prompted and then pleaded not guilty.
His barrister, Andrew Sexton SC, submitted that the safety of Redmond’s conviction had been placed in doubt by the report prepared so soon after his conviction. Mr Sexton said Redmond was in the Midlands Prison in a cell with another individual.
A motion to adduce the report as new evidence was adjourned in April to allow both sides make further enquiries. Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Patrick McGrath SC, told the Court of Appeal on that occasion that the State intended to have Redmond assessed by an expert from the Central Mental Hospital.
Mr McGrath told the court on Monday that the assessment had been carried out and Redmond was found to have a “severe form of dementia” with “no prospect of recovery”.
In those circumstances, Mr McGrath said he was instructed to not oppose the appeal and he indicated that there would be no application for a retrial.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said the medical reports set out the position in “very clear and stark terms”. He noted that the DPP were not opposing the appeal.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court would allow the appeal and make no further order. No referral was made to the Central Mental Hospital because the court itself had not made any determination.
Sentencing Redmond to five years imprisonment in April 2018, Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh had applied a reduction to the headline sentence on account of his progressive cognitive impairments.
Speaking outside court, Ms Murphy said she didn’t “want victims to be afraid to come forward because the system has let me down.”
“He got convicted by a jury of 12 people. Why do we have 12 jurors if the system just says then he was unfit to stand trial.”
She said she was a Social Policy and Sociology student at National University of Ireland, Maynooth. “I want to help people. I want change, I want to be a voice and I know you have to gain the knowledge, and be an academic, to be a voice for people. I come from a disadvantaged area and sometimes people think your opinion doesn’t matter. Well I’m here to say that my opinion is going to matter and I’m going to scream it from the rooftops.”