Man jailed for sexually assaulting woman with special needs

Accused pleaded guilty and was given three year sentence with final year suspended


A Mayo man who sexually assaulted a woman with special needs in his home has been given a three years sentence with the final year suspended.

The man (59), who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to sexual assault of the woman at his address on March 13th, 2015.

At an earlier sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Roisin Loftus told John O’Kelly SC, prosecuting, that on the date in question the victim cycled to the man’s house to visit his son. The woman and the man’s son were friends and had attended the same special needs school.

Det Gda Loftus said the man had been viewing pornography on his iPad and that when he went to get his son, the woman looked at the iPad. When he returned he asked her if she was interested in what she had seen.

The court heard that the man asked her if she would like to do it and the woman reported she did not say yes. The man pulled down her trousers and masturbated over the victim’s buttocks.

A medical report opened to the court concluded that the woman is not capable of living independently and that she does not have the capacity to give consent due to her low level of cognitive function.

In interview with gardaí­, the man admitted ejaculating on the woman, but claimed that she said she did want to do what she saw in the pornographic material and took down her own trousers.

In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court, the woman said she was very upset and had many sleepless nights following the incident. She said she was still very anxious when she goes out in public.

Paul Flannery SC, defending, said this was a spontaneous one-off incident and that this was not a case of grooming anybody. He said his client apologised unreservedly to the victim for the offence.

Passing sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Michael White noted the two most aggravating factors in the case were the serious nature of the assault and the vulnerability of the victim.

He said there were exceptional mitigating circumstances in this case and the offence seemed to be totally out of character for the accused man, whom he noted was a very caring parent to his own son with special needs.

Mr Justice White took into account the man had no previous convictions, that he had expressed genuine remorse, acknowledged what he had done and was a good family man.

He imposed a three year sentence and suspended the final year on conditions including that the man undergo assessment for the Better Lives programme.