May 30, 2005

Top barrister calls for 15-year limit on sex abuse trials

One in Four

By John Breslin - Irish Examiner

A Statute of limitations should be placed on criminal proceedings taken against those accused of sexual abuse, one of the country’s leading defence barristers told a conference this weekend.

Patrick Gageby, who has defended individuals accused of sex crimes sometimes decades old, said it may be time for the Government to step in and draw a line in the sand. Mr Gageby suggested a limit of 15 years, adding that all civil cases are subject to time limits, except ironically those relating to claims of sexual abuse.

Speaking at theAbuse Tracker Prosecutors Conference, the defence barrister said there were inherent dangers in old cases, where the key witnesses have inaccurate, faded, changed or intruded memories and where there was little additional or corroborating evidence. In too many cases, a jury trial can turn in to a "pure beauty contest." "Who do you like more, who's the more attractive? Who exactly is telling the truth? It comes down to body movements, gestures and the like," Mr Gageby said.

Posted by kshaw at May 30, 2005 12:03 PM