An appeal is expected by the DPP against the leniency of the sentence given to a married couple convicted yesterday of female genital mutilation of their infant daughter.
The pair had pleaded not guilty to the charge in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and the conviction is the first of its kind in the State’s history.
Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Elma Sheahan sentenced the man (37) to five-and-a-half-years’ imprisonment. Judge Sheahan sentenced the woman (27) to four years and nine months.
They are both originally from Africa.
The maximum sentence for these offences, described as “type one” in severity, is fourteen years and senior gardaí said yesterday they were concerned at the precedent set by yesterday’s sentence.
The jury’s verdict was unanimous and delivered after three hours of deliberation.
The mutilation was carried out in Dublin on 16 September 2016 and the judge said that the child suffered a severe and invasive procedure that was without cause and which would have a real impact on her for the rest of her life.
A detective involved in investigating the case said that the married couple, originally from an African country, had fought the child cruelty case “tooth and nail”.
Detective Inspector Danny Kelly said: “the big concern is that if people come before the courts here again and plead guilty to these type of offences they may receive much lighter sentences than today for what is in essence a truly shocking crime”.
Gardaí had enlisted help from police and genital mutilation experts in London in prosecuting the case.
Detective Inspector Kelly pointed out that it is against Irish law for the mutilation to be carried out abroad and gardaí will investigate cases where Irish-born victims are returned here.
The convicted pair had claimed the injury to the infant child had been caused by falling on a toy.
Outside the court, Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly of the Garda National Protections Services described genital mutilation as a heinous and barbaric practice which cannot be tolerated in Ireland.
He asked social workers, medics and parents to be vigilant for this type of crime and said “we must protect our children”.