Man given suspended sentence for assaulting transgender escort

Court heard Ben O’Reilly (21) punched the victim and placed his hands around her neck

Ben O’Reilly (21) leaving court on Monday after he received a suspended sentence for assaulting a transgender escort. Photograph: Collins Courts

Ben O’Reilly (21) leaving court on Monday after he received a suspended sentence for assaulting a transgender escort. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A former youth rugby player who assaulted a transgender escort in her home has received a fully suspended sentence.

Ben O’Reilly (21) formerly of The Old Mill, Ratoath, Co Meath, now residing at Village Green, Kilucan, Co Westmeath, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting Fernanda de Freitas causing her harm and robbing her of cash and her iPhone at her home on May 20th 2017.

On the third day of the trial in December 2019 at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, a jury of ten women and two men convicted O’Reilly of assaulting Ms de Freitas and acquitted him of the robbery charge. He has no previous convictions.

Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Elma Sheahan said that after a dispute regarding the payment for the services of an escort, O’Reilly punched the victim and injured her further by placing his hands around her neck. She said the case was aggravated by the seriousness of the offence.

Suspended from rugby club

Judge Sheahan said O’Reilly had lost the support of his mother, brothers and friends and had been suspended from his rugby club. She said further mitigating factors included his previous good character, his youth at the time and his acceptance of the jury’s verdict.

She noted that if a term of imprisonment were imposed, O’Reilly would lose his role with the British Armed Forces.

Judge Sheahan sentenced O’Reilly to two years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in full on condition that he pay €10,000 in compensation to Ms de Freitas within a period of 12 months.

At an earlier sentencing hearing, Garda Brian O’Carroll told Ronan Prendergast BL, prosecuting, that the woman worked as an escort and she first met the accused through an app called Grindr.

Gda O’Carroll said that on the date in question, O’Reilly went to her address and agreed to pay €500. He handed over €150 and Ms de Freitas said she would require him to go to the bank to get the rest.

After they engaged in “intimacy”, O’Reilly asked for his money back and punched Ms de Freitas in the face. He jumped on top of her, continued punching her and began to squeeze her neck, stopping after she kicked him in the groin.

Ms de Freitas gave him €150 and he left her address, leaving his phone behind. Gardaí­ used his phone to identify him as a suspect.

In interview with gardaí, O’Reilly said that because he had done this type of thing before he was under the impression he could get away with not paying. He admitted that he hit the victim, but claimed she had become aggressive and started taking money out of his wallet

Another woman

In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court, Ms de Freitas said she felt it was important to make a report as she did not want him to do this to another woman. She said she was unable to work for some time and needed to work to support her family.

Emmet Nolan BL, defending, said his client contested the case on the basis of self-defence. He said his client accepted the verdict of the jury.

Mr Nolan said O’Reilly was capped four times for the Leinster U18s and U19s and played rugby for the Connacht U20s. He said his client previously worked as a rugby coach for Florida State University.

He said O’Reilly has enlisted in UK army training and faced an automatic discharge if he received a custodial sentence.