Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sentence For Gang Rapists Who Left Victim With Burns Questioned

From the BBC:

The Attorney General is reviewing the sentencing of three rapists who threw caustic soda over their victim, after criticism that it was too lenient.

The 16-year-old girl, who has a mental age of eight, was repeatedly raped in north London last January. [...]

The girl, who has learning difficulties, was in a coma following the attack at a flat in Seven Sisters, north London, in January 2008. She has been left with burns to more than 50% of her body.

One of the men, Rogel McMorris, 18, from Seven Sisters, was jailed for nine years for two counts of rape and grievous bodily harm at Wood Green Crown Court on Monday. Co-defendants Jason Brew, 19, from Tottenham, north London, and Hector Muaimba, 20, from Walthamstow, east London, were jailed for six years each for the rape.

This case matches what many of those who reject most rape cases call real rapes. If repeated rapes and tossing caustic soda on the rape victim are viewed as not justifying a sentence of at least a decade then rapists who don't permanently disfigure their victims will be much more likely to feel like victims of injustice if they are given any prison time.

From comments made by Judge Shaun Lyons about the primary offense coming from the caustic soda it seems like he seriously discounted the harm done by the multiple rapes of this girl. He may have fallen into the trap of believing that if he can't see the impact of a crime then that particular crime wasn't all that serious.

He can see her burns so that must the primary offense rather than there being multiple primary offenses. Too often in even the most horrific gang rape cases defendants can claim that what happened was a consensual encounter that ended badly.

Deborah Kitson, director of The Ann Craft Trust, said victims with learning difficulties often faced "hurdles" in getting justice. "Most people don't realise that people with learning disabilities are more likely to be victims of rape," she said.

"They can also face lots of hurdles in getting justice and fear not being believed if they come forward. Sentences such as this can damage people's confidence in the courts."

Seven other men had been originally charged over the attack.

The number of men who were involved in some way, as participants or observers, in this gang rape and the subsequent physical assault reinforces why the sentencing of these 3 men needs to be reviewed.

If the age of the defendants are what caused these sentences to be so light that sends a dangerous message that gang rape is no big deal as long as the perpetrators aren't a decade or more older than their victim.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:36 AM   0 comments links to this post

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