A man who sexually assaulted a woman out running 12 days into a suspended sentence for attacking another woman has been jailed for three years consecutive to a two-year reactivated sentence.
Liam Vickers (24) was previously given a two-year suspended sentence by Judge Elma Sheahan in January 2021 after he pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to a woman working as an escort in an apartment in Dublin city centre in the early hours of September 30th, 2017.
Vickers is currently serving that two-year sentence, which was reactivated in March, and the new three-year sentence for assaulting the woman out running in February 2021 will be consecutive to it.
At a sentence hearing before Judge Sheahan last month, Det Garda Niall Gibbs told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that on February 3rd, 2021, a 21-year-old woman was out running near her family home when she became unnerved by a man in the park.
She left the park, but was pushed against the park railings by the man, who then sexually assaulted her. She began screaming and managed to run off, but didn’t get “a proper look” at her attacker, Det Garda Gibbs said. Vickers was later identified after gardaí canvassed the local area and local residents for CCTV footage.
Vickers, who is currently homeless, was living nearby at the time. He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexual assault of the woman in a Dublin suburb.
On Monday Judge Sheahan commended the investigating gardaí on the painstaking detective work that went into identifying Vickers.
She said the accused had received the leniency of the court previously and proved himself incapable of taking that opportunity. She said a report at that hearing suggested his risk of reoffending was low.
She noted that a lot of the matters raised in mitigation had also been advanced and taken in consideration in the imposition of the previous suspended sentence. She said they would be taken into consideration again, but the weight she could attach to them has been comprised and lessened.
She took into account mitigation including his traumatic childhood, his co-operation on arrest, his supportive family, the difficulty of serving a prison sentence at this time and his expressed desire to deal with his psychological challenges and rehabilitate.
Taking all matters into consideration, including the principles of totality and proportionality, Judge Sheahan imposed a three-year sentence which will run consecutive to his current two year term.
CCTV footage was played for the court and Det Garda Gibbs pointed out the woman being followed by Vickers as she came into the park. He said at one point the man almost seems to be trying to run to catch up with the woman. The incident itself was not clearly captured on CCTV footage.
Gardaí later contacted a woman who was captured on CCTV footage picking Vickers up in her car after the attack. She made a statement to gardaí and helped to identify Vickers.
Vickers was arrested and admitted he saw the woman, followed her through the park and grabbed her. He said he regretted it.“I don’t know what was going through my head,” he said, but admitted that “obviously it has to be sexual”.
A victim impact statement from the woman said she was out of work for eight weeks following the assault because she had such difficulty sleeping.
“I couldn’t go to sleep without feeling the presence of someone behind me or grabbing me,” the woman said.
She said she didn’t feel safe in her house or her local area. She said through counselling she eventually established a better sleeping routine and managed to get back to herself.
Dean Kelly SC, defending, said his client had an extremely difficult childhood. His former partner wrote a letter for the court describing him as a devoted father and said she had never suffered any type of abuse at his hands. His sister was also in court to support him.