Dismissing an appeal against the severity of his sentence today, Mr Justice John Edwards said the Court of Appeal has had to deal with 'shocking cases' before
A 74-year-old man jailed for the violent sexual assault of a woman he left with injuries likened to rape 'with a machete' - as one might find in sub-Saharan conflicts, according to medics - has lost an appeal against his sentence.
Walter Morrissey, aged 74, of Upper Bridge St, Callan, Co Kilkenny, was found guilty by a jury of aggravated sexual assault and intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to his former partner in a Kilkenny town on dates between December 1 and December 8, 2011. He denied he had caused the woman’s injuries but told gardai he had an interest in 'amateur gynaecology'.
The Central Criminal Court heard medical evidence that Morrissey used his fist to rip the woman’s vagina. When she was brought to hospital, some days later, a doctor remarked that he did not know how she was still alive. Gynaecologist Dr Ray O’Sullivan gave evidence that his only previous experience of anything approaching her injuries was while treating women who had been raped with machetes when he was working in sub-Saharan Africa.
When asked whether the injuries could have been self-inflicted, the medic replied: “Impossible. That degree of force, impossible."
Sentencing him to 13 years imprisonment in 2013, Mr Justice George Birmingham described Morrissey as a cunning, devious, and manipulative man who represents a significant threat to the public.
Dismissing an appeal against the severity of his sentence today, Mr Justice John Edwards said the Court of Appeal has had to deal with 'shocking cases' and on each occasion the court 'hopes it has seen the nadir of depravity'. In this case, however, the depravity plunged to 'new depths'.
Counsel for Morrissey, Seán Gillane SC, had submitted that few rape cases would attract a 13 year sentence and was typically higher than a sentence for attempted murder.
Mr Justice Edwards said this case fit comfortably within the category of fifteen years to life before applying a reduction for mitigating factors.
He said it would have been open to the sentencing judge to have started higher than he did and the four year discount for the the primary mitigating factor - Morrissey’s age - was “generous”.
Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice John Hedigan and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said the sentence was "lenient" although within the judge's discretion. He said the court dismissed the appeal "without hesitation".
In 1977 Morrissey was convicted of the double manslaughter of a father and son by deliberately driving his car into them. Morrissey drove over his neighbour, Francis McEnery, who was out walking with his four-year-old son Marcus in Mullinahone, Co Tipperary, and received a four-year jail term for the killings.
In 1999 he was convicted of seven counts of indecent assault of a woman. He was jailed for 13 years in 2013 when Mr Justice George Birmingham described him as a cunning, devious, and manipulative man who represents a significant threat to the public.