Violent Congolese rapist loses appeal against prison sentence
A VIOLENT rapist who was jailed for attacking a 21-year-old woman in Limerick has lost an appeal against his eight-year sentence.
Erick Mukoko, aged 34, who has an address at Thomas Street, Limerick had pleaded guilty to raping the woman at a location in the city in May 2017.
A sentencing hearing at the Central Criminal Court, in October 2019, was told Mukoko – who is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo – raped the woman after she refused a kiss from him at a flat where she had been socialising with a friend after a night out.
Mukoko’s lawyers later launched an appeal against the sentence handed down by Mr Justice Michael White, who had described the rape as “very violent and forceful”.
In a submission to the Court of Appeal, it was claimed Mr Justice White had erred by placing the case into the more serious category for this kind of offence.
It was also claimed that the judge failed to attach sufficient weight to mitigating factors.
At the Court of Appeal, Mark Nicholas SC, for Mukoko said he did he want to dimmish the seriousness of the offence, but he said the headline sentence of 10-15 years set by the trial judge was “too severe” and should have been set at a lower scale.
He said his client had regretted his actions and had even offered an apology “on his knees” to the victim.
However, the court dismissed the appeal.
In a judgement, delivered by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, siting with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, the judge said that headline sentence nominated by Mr Justice White was “well within the discretion of the judge”.
Mr Justice McCarthy also said the three-judge court was of the opinion that the mitigating factors had been “properly considered”.
Earlier, Anne Marie Lawlor SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court the sentence imposed was “fully within the margin of appreciation” open to the judge.
“We say it is a proper sentence,” she said. “There is simply no error in principle in this case.”
During the earlier sentencing hearing, Mr Justice White noted the impact on the victim had been devastating.
The woman outlined to the court, in her victim impact statement, that she suffers anxiety, depression and panic attacks on a daily basis and had tried to take her own life following the rape.
She said she had also taken alcohol to black out what happened. She finds it hard to trust people or socialise.
“I am not going to allow what he did to control my life any more,” she said, describing how she had the support of her family and hoped to get back to the person she had been before the attack.
Garda Aoibheann Prenderville told Ms Lawlor, prosecuting, that Mukoko was not known to the woman. She had been out socialising with others with whom she had gone to a flat in the city.
During the evening the woman ended up alone in the sitting room with Mukoko and this is where the rape occurred. The woman said she was shouting, saying no and fighting to close her legs.
She said she was bleeding afterwards and went to wake up her friend in a state of high distress.
Gardaí identified Mukoko as a suspect and he denied the allegations or knowing the woman during interview. The woman informally identified Mukoko as the perpetrator to gardai after he declined a formal identification process.
A swab of semen taken from the woman matched a DNA profile from Mukoko.