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Westmeath Man Jailed For Two And A Half Years For Sexually Assaulted A Sleeping Woman

The Central Criminal Court heard they were unknown to each other, but had mutual friends in common.

A County Westmeath man who sexually assaulted a sleeping woman has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the woman was wearing a tampon during the assault which had to be removed via a procedure in the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit.

A local garda told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting that the man and woman were unknown to each other, but that they had mutual friends in common.

She said the man's friend had been invited to the house by another occupant and that the man had come along with him following a night out.

The man gave evidence during the trial that he engaged in consensual sexual activity with the woman including digital penetration. He has one previous conviction for a minor road traffic offence.

Passing sentence on Monday 16th March, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that in ordinary circumstances he would have liked to take some time to consider the sentence, but “we don't live in ordinary circumstances” and it was better not to bring people back on another day.

Mr Justice Hunt said he could not lose sight of the fact that the woman was at home in her bed. He said that while he accepted the man made “a catastrophic error of judgement”, the point remained that “you have a right to be let alone in your own house”.

He said the man had “no business being in that bedroom” or trying to initiate sexual activity with a sleeping person he did not know. He said this was “uncharacteristic behaviour” for the man and said he was “not a bad person outside of this”.

Mr Justice Hunt sentenced the man to two-and-a-half years imprisonment. He said the sentence was lenient in terms of length, but that he had no doubt the man was going it find being in custody very difficult.

The man (24), who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, had pleaded not guilty to raping the woman at an address in Westmeath in September 2016.

Following a trial in February last, the jury returned a verdict of guilty for the offence of sexual assault.

In her victim impact statement, which she read out in court, the woman said that following this ordeal she was left completely in shock and felt “empty and lifeless”. She said the “harrowing experience” was something she had been forced to relive constantly in her mind.

The woman said the man took away her freedom and she was unable to be alone. She said she was still unable to sleep on her own without locking the bedroom door and turning the light on.

She said the person she is now is “just a shadow of who I once was”. She said she does not know if she will ever be the same again.

The woman said she hoped one day she would “become a survivor rather than a victim of this crime”.

The garda said that on the date in question, the then 20-year-old woman had returned from a night out with her friends, changed into her pyjamas and fallen asleep in a bed.

The garda said that the woman woke up to the feeling of having someone on top of her and felt herself being touched. The woman gave evidence during the trial that she felt the person touching her vagina and trying to put his penis into her vagina.

The woman realised that she was no longer wearing her pyjamas. She jumped out of bed, wrapped some kind of blanket around her and left the room.

The woman was on her period and had been wearing a tampon which she was unable to remove following the incident. The tampon was removed via a procedure while she was being examined in the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit.

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