A man has been convicted of assaulting a transgender escort after an alleged dispute over payment and acquitted of robbing her phone and cash.
Ben O’Reilly (21) formerly of The Old Mill, Ratoath, Co Meath, now residing at Village Green, Kilucan, Co Westmeath, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Fernanda de Freitas causing her harm and robbing her of cash and her iPhone at her home on May 20th, 2017.
On day three of the trial following approximately two hours of deliberations, a jury of ten women and two men convicted O’Reilly of assaulting Ms de Freitas and acquitted him of the robbery charge.
Judge Elma Sheehan remanded O’Reilly on continuing bail to January 24th, next, for sentencing.
During the trial Ms de Freitas told the jury, with the assistance of an interpreter, that she had first met Mr O’Reilly through an app called Grindr.
In subsequent WhatsApp messages the complainant told O’Reilly that she was an escort, gave her address and told him that she would give “a full service” for €150 for 30 minutes or €250 for an hour.
A meeting was arranged and the witness said that the moment O’Reilly walked into her apartment, “I got the impression that he was going to do something bad”.
“I felt he would represent problems for me,” she told the jury. She said she told him she wanted to go out to meet a friend she had arranged to see but he offered her €500 if she stayed in the house.
He said he had €180 on him and he would get the rest from the bank later. She said she took €150 from him, as that was her usual charge for 30 minutes and handed him back €30.
She said they had sex and afterward O’Reilly behaved in a really strange way “like he was rushing to leave”.
Ms de Freitas said the accused then got dressed very quickly, said he wanted his money back and took her phone.
She said O’Reilly then came at her “in a threatening way” before he started punching her. She fell backwards and he jumped on her and started punching her “many times in the face”, she testified.
She told the jury the accused put his hands around her neck before she struck him in the groin to get him off her.
“I thought I was going to die. I thought he was doing this because of the money so I yelled at him that I would give back the money if he stopped,” Ms de Freitas testified.
She said she gave him the money back and an additional €50 fell to the floor. He left with the €200 and her phone.
After he left she realised he had left his phone behind. She was later treated for cuts to her mouth which needed stitches and her eyes were swollen and purple.
During his interviews with gardai O’Reilly said that after he had consensual sex with Ms de Freitas there was a verbal exchange about money, and he tried to “palm her off jokingly”.
He said that she pulled his wallet out of his pocket and took money from it and he then got a “bit aggressive” and hit her.
He admitted that he had his hands around her neck for around five to ten seconds as they wrestled. He said he punched her twice in the face and a third punch caused her to fall back and she hit her head.
O’Reilly said he was in panic mode and grabbed what he thought was his mobile phone and later realised he had taken Ms de Freitas’s mobile instead of his phone.