Green Party Justice spokesperson, Cllr. Roderic O’Gorman has stated that the lenient sentence imposed on Tom Humphries following his conviction for child sexual offences demonstrates the need for a Sentencing Council to provide clear guidelines to judges, in order to have better consistency in sentencing. He called for the strengthening of the role of the proposed Sentencing Information Committee within the Judicial Council Bill 2017, to give it powers to issue guidelines to judges.
Speaking today, he said: “It is difficult to see how the length of the sentence imposed in this case is in anyway proportionate to the severity of the crime committed. There have been a number of instances in recent years where prison terms imposed by judges, particularly following convictions for sexual offences, have shocked the public in terms of the leniency.
“While mandatory sentences are not the way to go, the provision of clear guidelines to judges regarding the appropriate mitigating and aggravating factors to be taken into account.
“Under the Government’s Judicial Council Bill, 2017 they propose to set up a Sentencing Information Committee as part of the Judicial Council. This has the role to gather information about sentences handed down and disseminate this to judges. We would argue that this does not go far enough and that the Sentencing Information Committee should have a clear mandate to draw up guidelines that judges should follow, or explain clearly why they are departing from them.
“Sexual offences are among the most damaging that any individual should face. The sentences imposed much match the gravity of crimes.”