Cabinet to consider bill to increase penalties for repeat sex offenders

The new law would give the courts discretion to apply tougher minimum sentences

The Cabinet will this morning consider a bill to increase the penalties for repeat sex offenders.

The bill would introduce tougher minimum sentences and penalties for those convicted of multiple sex crimes.

If a person was convicted of a sexual offence and handed a sentence of five years or more, and then within a further period of 10 years convicted of another offence, the court would decide what the minimum sentence should be.

The bill - which sets guidelines - proposes that the minimum be set at three quarters of the maximum prison term possible.

If the highest penalty is life imprisonment, it proposes a jail term of at least 10 years be given.

However, the court would have the discretion not to give that minimum sentence if it felt it would be disproportionate to the circumstances of the case.

The bill would also make the penalty for incest equal at 10 years imprisonment for both men and women.

Under current laws, women receive a more lenient sentence than men in cases of incest.