February 26: Ireland’s Supreme Court, in significant judgments for sentencing in marital rape and sexual violence cases, has reinstated a 10-year jail sentence imposed on a man for raping his wife after producing a knife and threatening to “cut open” her face. 

The five-judge court upheld arguments by the DPP that the Court of Appeal (COA), in reducing the rape sentence to eight and a half years, took an incorrect legal approach by examining the rape “in isolation” from surrounding circumstances of violent and abusive behaviour. 

The man had forced his wife at knifepoint before raping her while their child slept in another room, made threats to kill her after she left the following day with the child and, some weeks later, attacked her and her mother with a hammer in her parents home. The woman suffered three deep lacerations to the head and she and her mother were brought to hospital. Speaking afterwards, the woman said the judgments would have very important implications for future cases of domestic and sexual violence.


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