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Appeal court reduction of attempted rapists' sentences a 'grave error'

PUBLISHED: 15:44 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:07 12 December 2018

George-Hari Constantinescu and Danut Gheorghe  Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

George-Hari Constantinescu and Danut Gheorghe Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

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Suffolk's police and crime commissioner has condemned an appeal court decision to reduce the sentences of two predatory sex attackers.

Last February, George-Hari Constantinescu and Danut Gheorghe tracked a woman through Ipswich town centre before attempting to rape her in a Rope Walk car park, where she lost consciousness and awoke naked from the waist down, with injuries to her head and face.

The pair, both 31, from Farnham Road, Blaxhall, denied attempted rape but were convicted and each sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Having served little more than a year behind bars, Constantinescu and Gheorghe this week unsuccessfully appealed their convictions but earned reduced sentences of 10 years after Lady Kathryn Justice Thirlwall deemed the terms too long, saying: “Had this been the full offence of rape, in our judgment the appropriate starting point would have been 12 years. In this case we are concerned with an attempt. The harm caused and culpability are recognised by a sentence in each case of 10 years.”

Following the judgement, director at Suffolk Rape Crisis, Amy Roch said more needed to be done to ensure the justice system met the needs of survivors.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore added: “While I don’t know the specific details of the hearing, I’m not at all impressed with the decision.

“There’s a danger that this sort of approach could compromise public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system and that’s completely unacceptable.”

Mr Passmore blamed outdated and unsuitable sentencing guidelines as the root cause of the controversy, adding: “They need to be looked at as a matter of urgency. We need to be sending out a suitable deterrent message particularly for crimes like this, which should carry the absolute maximum sentence.”

Mr Passmore had similar concerns about such judgements undermining morale of officers who were praised for their work on the original investigation.

“I’m horrified the sentences have been reduced,” added Mr Passmore.

“It means these people are only inside for about five years.

“Everyone has the right to appeal but, in this case, there has been a grave error. I respect the independence of the judiciary, but it must come with the tacit acceptance of the public.”

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