The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission had no standing to seek a declaration that abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with ECHR art.3 and art.8 because it had not instituted proceedings by identifying any unlawful act or any actual or potential victim. Although the Supreme Court therefore had no jurisdiction to make a declaration of incompatibility, it considered that the current law was disproportionate and incompatible with art.8 insofar as it prohibited abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and where pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
The court determined that the failure to provide exceptions to the law in Northern Ireland prohibiting abortion in respect of fatal foetal abnormality at any time, and pregnancies due to sexual crime up to the date when a foetus became capable of an existence independent of its mother, was contrary to the ECHR art.8.
A conviction for procuring a miscarriage contrary to the Offences against the Person Act 1861 s.59 was unsafe as the offence was not one created under s.59 and the particulars of the offence also did not reflect the terms of the section.
A sentence of 30 months’ imprisonment concurrent on fourteen counts of father-daughter incest over a long period of time and resulting in pregnancy was unduly lenient and was substituted with a term of four years. The sentencing judge had adopted an incorrect approach when he reduced the custodial term to reflect the extended licence period ordered.