Sexual offence convictions most likely to be appealed but less likely to succeed

Convictions for sexual offences are the most likely to be appealed but among the least likely to be successfully overturned, according to new analysis by The Irish Times.

The newspaper has published its own analysis of around 300 criminal cases considered by the Court of Appeal since February 2017.

Almost a third (31 per cent) of criminal appeals before the court were sexual offences, despite them making up just 18 per cent of the cases that come before the circuit and central criminal courts.

Only one in four (25 per cent) appeals in sex offence cases were successful, with only murder cases having a lower success rate (11 per cent).

Barrister James Dwyer SC told The Irish Times that people convicted of sex offences “tend to be much less accepting of a verdict compared with other clients and are, therefore, more likely to litigate”.

Mr Dwyer suggested this was because those convicted of sexual offences struggle to admit their crimes to their own families or to victims’ families.

He explained: “They simply can’t admit they’ve raped your daughter or granddaughter. Your client in a sexual assault case isn’t the same as your client in a burglary or assault or drugs case who will typically hold their hands up and take their medicine.

“In most cases, there’s a rational assessment of the likelihood of success in an appeal. But that doesn’t happen when it comes to sex cases.

“You tell them they’ve no chance of appeal, that it’s a waste of time. And nine times out of 10, they’ll still tell you to appeal anyway.”

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