A man jailed for rape in Romania savagely beat a woman in Ballinasloe, Co Galway and tried to rape her a month after he came to Ireland, Galway Circuit Court has been told.
Thirty-three-year-old Stefan Macina, of no fixed abode, had initially denied charges of false imprisonment and attempting to rape the 43-year-old woman during a protracted ordeal in May 2015.
Macina, who had just arrived in Ireland after being released after serving an eight-year sentence, had been staying with other Romanians in Ballinaloe, while working in a local carwash.
Local CCTV cameras captured Macina as he walked past the woman and then turn around and followed her through St Michael’s Square. She slowed down and let him pass her on the street.
He went ahead of her and then attacked the woman from behind inside a nearby car park. He knocked her to the ground on to her back, stood on her feet to hold her down and tried to open the buttons on her jeans.
She fought him off and ran to an exit, which leads to a main road while continuously screaming for help. Macina caught up with her and knocked her to the ground again.
He dragged her by both arms across the road, up a grass embankment and down to a marshy area near the town’s marina. He goaded her as he punched her in the face every time she called for help or begged him to stop.
The woman thought at one point that he would knock her unconscious and then throw her into the river. Another woman in the marina area heard the victim’s cries for help and raised the alarm.
A patrol car quickly arrived in the area but the gardaí could see no one as the area where the accused had dragged his victim was out of sight behind the embankment.
They climbed the embankment and shone a torch along the marshy area, where they saw the accused on top of the woman, assaulting her while trying to pull her clothes off.
Macina ran through the marsh when he saw the gardaí, but they caught up with him. Taken to Ballinasloe Garda station he denied trying to rape or imprison the woman during four interviews.
He claimed he had met the woman the previous week and they had arranged to meet that night. He claimed they had been walking hand in hand to the grassy area and fell backwards when the gardaí arrived.
The victim had been taken to the sexual assault unit in Galway where she was examined. She suffered multiple cuts and bruises to her body, while her eyes and face were badly swollen.
Still traumatised, the woman had not wanted to be in court as she feared the accused would come after her or her family after he was released, Det Garda Adrian Fehilly told the court.
“I feel guilty and I keep asking myself, ‘Was it my fault?’ I still can’t believe this all happened to me. It was a very vicious attack,” she told the court in a victim impact statement.
“He was out to get someone that night and if it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else. He was getting more aggressive as it went on, slapping me, punching me and goading me.”
Mr Bernard Madden SC, defending, handed a letter of apology into court which Macina had written in English. Macina, he said, claimed that he had been convicted of attempted rape in Romania and not rape.
Judge Rory McCabe said the maximum sentence for imprisonment is life, while the maximum for attempted rape is ten years. Giving him an eight-year sentence, he said it would be reduced to six years and three months.