A rapist’s record

The man who raped two children in Athlone had 88 other convictions, nearly all related to alcohol, and had just been released early from a five-month jail sentence for assault

Outside court: the scene in Longford in October 2013, when the man was charged. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Outside court: the scene in Longford in October 2013, when the man was charged. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 15:09

Nobody who was in court this week for the sentencing hearing of the man who raped two girls, aged six and nine, in Athlone in September last year is ever likely to forget what they heard.

In victim-impact statements the girls’ parents painted a picture of lives shattered, perhaps beyond the point of rescue. The mother of the nine-year-old said the attacker “made a cold and predatory decision to rape my daughter”. “He made her believe in her little heart that she would die if she didn’t comply. He gratified himself on the body of an innocent child.”

She spoke of her sleepless, tormented nights, lying awake with images in her head of her innocent child snatched from the midst of the family, being raped and of being able to hear her heart beating in fear.

The father of the younger girl sobbed as he addressed the court, saying when his daughter first described the attack, after she had escaped the rapist, all of his senses were instantly overpowered by white noise and he felt a “bomb going off” in his head.

The party
The girls were in a house in Athlone for a birthday party on the afternoon of Saturday, September 28th, when they decided to go outside to play. They were climbing a tree when they saw a man looking at them. He approached and started a conversation, enticing them away by pretending to invite them to play with a fictional six-year-old in a flat nearby. “She is a bit shy now. Come on, come on,” he told them.

He took them to a ground-floor flat where he had been sleeping while on a four-day drinking binge since his release from prison, the previous Wednesday.

Once inside, the door closed and the girls’ fate sealed, his tone changed and he undressed. He verbally abused the older girl, ordering her to take off her clothes and threatening to “cut your parents’ throat open and cut yours”.

He then threw her on the mattress in the bedroom and raped her. Both girls were raped repeatedly and both witnessed the attacks on each other. *

The ordeal lasted about 20 minutes. When the attacker left the room, taking his coat, the elder girl realised he was leaving the flat and told the other young victim they would be there forever unless they ran now.

They climbed out of a window at the back of the property and into the arms of a search party of family, friends and locals who were frantically looking for them.

As the children told what had happened, one of the parents recorded their accounts on a mobile phone – a foresight that would prove crucial.

After he left the flat the attacker had wandered in a drunken haze no farther than the entrance to the housing estate. He was pursued, and used a bottle of vodka to try to hit the first local man to reach him.

The arrest
Gardaí from Athlone Garda station arrived and arrested the suspect on a public-order charge. He was put into cells in Athlone station to sleep off the effects of the alcohol. The 30-year-old attacker had been in those same cells only hours earlier. He had been arrested for being drunk and abusive at 3am on the Saturday, charged with a public-order offence and released on bail just before 10am. Gardaí believe he resumed his drinking on Saturday.

He had come to the town four days before the rapes, having been released from a five-month prison sentence, to see a man he had met in jail. This man was a guest of the tenant of the flat where the rapes took place.

On the Saturday afternoon the other two men lay comatose from drink in the flat. The attacker, drunk and on valium, went outside and lured his victims into the property at about 4pm.

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