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Anger at Judge's decision to cut "predators" jail time

PUBLISHED: 21:08 11 December 2018 | UPDATED: 21:29 11 December 2018

George-Hari Constantinescu and Danut Gheorghe. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

George-Hari Constantinescu and Danut Gheorghe. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

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A prominent women's campaigner has hit out after two convicted sex offenders have had their sentence for attempted rape cut on appeal.

The pair were captured on CCTV on the night of the attack. Picture: Suffolk ConstabularyThe pair were captured on CCTV on the night of the attack. Picture: Suffolk Constabulary

Amy Roch, director at Suffolk Rape Crisis, has vented her anger after George-Hari Constantinescu and Danut Gheorghe, who were convicted last year, had their 12 year sentences reduced by two years.

The appeal, which took place at the Court of Appeal, saw the pair aim to clear their names, but Lady Justice Thirlwall, who saw the case, rejected their appeals.

She did decide however, that the length of their sentence was too long.

Ms Roch said: “We are pleased that the court upheld the convictions of these men, but are concerned about any reduction in sentences.

The scene of the serious sexual assault in Rope Walk in Ipswich. 
Picture by Ashley PickeringThe scene of the serious sexual assault in Rope Walk in Ipswich. Picture by Ashley Pickering

“Conviction rates for rape and sexual assault are still far too low and much more needs to be done to ensure that the criminal justice system is meeting the needs of survivors.

“At Suffolk Rape Crisis we will continue to work to ensure that all women who experience sexual violence get the support and justice they deserve.”

The two men, who were described as “predatory” in their initial trial at Ipswich Crown Court, attacked the woman as she walked along Rope Walk in Ipswich on Febuary 25, 2017.

The victim was grabbed from behind before being forced into a secluded car park where the pair then subjected her to a vile assault which saw her lose consciousness. When she woke she found her underwear around her ankles as well as head and face injuries.

Ms Roch continued: “This terrible case is a clear example of why much more needs to be done.

“Last week hundreds of women marched through Ipswich to demand action to ensure that the streets are safe for women and girls.

“Too often women are told that they need to keep themselves safe when they go out at night, but we are not the problem.

“The focus needs to be on stopping those men who believe they have the right to attack, abuse and harass women.”

Constantinescu and Gheorghe, both 31, of Farnham Road, Blaxhall, denied attempted rape and an alternative charge of sexual assault at their first court hearing but were eventually convicted of attempted rape by a 10-2 majority by a jury in August of last year.

The court heard the victim had been for a night out with work friends and decided to walk home along Rope Walk by herself.

She was accosted by her attackers in the early hours but could not remember what happened after she was taken into the car park.

The judge said CCTV evidence showed the two men had been in various bars and clubs approaching women during the night.

They appealed against their convictions on the basis that evidence of their behaviour earlier in the night should not have gone before the jury.

In her ruling at the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Thirlwall said the 12-year terms were too long because the men had not actually raped the woman.

“Had this been the full offence of rape, in our judgment the appropriate starting point would have been 12 years,” she said.

“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.”

The Suffolk Rape Crisis confidential helpline number is 0800 0850 520.

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