Sex attacker escapes jail term

Wed, Oct 17, 2012, 01:00

A Louth resident who committed a random violent sexual attack on a teenager as the victim’s friend tried to rescue her has escaped jail on condition he pay €15,000 to the girl.

Graham Griffiths (29) later told gardaí that he felt he was “under some magnetic force” and “it must have been the hormones” that caused him to attack the 17-year-old girl.

He had been at a drugs party the previous night and later admitted to gardaí that he had taken hallucinogenic drugs along with alcohol.

After his arrest he told gardai he wanted to “screw” the victim and that “I wanted to make her feel inferior because I am not on the same level emotionally.” He later added; “it must have been the hormones”.

Griffiths, of The Saltings, Annagassan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting the girl on April 17th, 2011.

He is originally from Dublin but has been living in Louth with his girlfriend for the last six years. The couple plan to get married. He has previous convictions, four of which are for assault causing harm.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a four year sentence which he suspended in full on conditions including that he pay €15,000 to his victim within one year “to bring home the seriousness of what he has done”.

Judge Nolan noted that while Griffiths is collecting this money or repaying loans to family he would have little or no money to spend on drink or drugs. He said if the woman does not wish to receive the money the court would decide where it would go.

The court heard that Griffiths first approached the girl in a chip shop in a Dublin suburb but she pushed him away. He then grabbed her a second time on the street outside but she got away again before he grabbed her a third time.

This time he pushed her against railings and sexually assaulted her before he dragged her to the ground by her hair and pinned her by lying on top of her.

Griffiths ripped the girl’s clothes in an effort to get them off her. During the attack her male friend was trying to get him off the victim.

Her friend was unsuccessful so he then tried to pull the teenager out from under Griffiths, which resulted in the girl being pulled between the two men. The victim was eventually released and Griffiths got up and walked away.

Griffiths told Judge Nolan that he took too many LSD tablets the previous night and by the time of the attack had lost all sense of reality.

He said he set out walking around Dublin to try and find his girlfriend in Kildare because he was under “some magnetic force” and he believed she was the other force that could break that.

“I was walking out in front of cars because I thought I had the power to stop the cars,” Griffiths told the court. “I felt something had drawn me to the girl. I did not know what was right or wrong.”

He offered a “sincere apology” to the victim, saying “I cannot imagine what I have put her through”.

Griffiths’ mother told Judge Nolan that her son told her when he was a child that he had been both sexually assaulted and raped by a distant relative.

The gardaí were alerted and he was interviewed by specialised officers but his abuser died a year later from a drug overdose and was never prosecuted.

She said Griffiths had also been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and was unable to attend mainstream school.

Garda Rory Heffernan told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting, the gardaí were called immediately after the assault and the victim and her friend later got into the patrol car and pointed Griffiths out as the attacker.

A victim impact report handed into the court said that the victim has attended for counselling every fortnight for the last six months and still suffers flashbacks and has trouble sleeping.

She did not leave her home for over a month and did not want to attend court as Gda Heffernan said “she could not face him (Griffiths)”.

Gda Heffernan agreed with Peter Maguire BL, defending, that gardaí asked Griffiths was it his “mental health” or the effect of the drugs that made him attack the girl.

He accepted that it was “a spur of the moment” and did not seem to be a planned attack.