A man who raped and sexually assaulted a teenage girl who he had invited into an apartment in the middle of the night has been jailed for nine years.
The then 15-year-old girl went to sleep fully clothed in his then home, but woke up to find the 41-year-old man on top of her. He put his hand over her mouth when she screamed before raping her.
The complainant told the Central Criminal Court that the man "killed" her that night. She told the court: "I haven't been alive since that night. I'm the walking dead."
The man, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of the victim, was found guilty by a jury of raping and sexually assaulting the girl at a Dublin apartment on August 21st, 2017.
He was acquitted of one count of falsely imprisoning the girl following a trial last September.
He has one previous conviction for serious drug dealing. The Albanian native has been living in Ireland for a number of years and at one point resided in Co. Louth before moving to Dublin. He has been in custody since he was found guilty.
Passing sentence on Wednesday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the offence was aggravated by the man bringing a child back to his home late at night when she needed a safe place to stay.
Justice McDermott said the man took advantage of her age and vulnerability. He said the man had breached the trust she placed in him.
He said the complainant has been deeply affected over the past four years and cannot escape from the memory of the events at this time. He said she is very young with most of her life still ahead of her and he hopes she will be able to recover.
The judge noted that the man has been deemed a low risk of reoffending due to his age and his lack of previous convictions for sexual offending. He said the man maintains his innocence and has no remorse.
Justice McDermott sentenced the man to nine years imprisonment. He said he was not satisfied that there was any basis offered for suspending any portion of the sentence.
‘I’m the walking dead’
When reading out her victim impact statement at a previous sentencing hearing, the complainant asked that the detective be allowed to stand beside her, between her and the man in the dock.
“He changed my life,” the now 19-year-old woman told the court. “He ruined me. He made me into something I never thought I would be.
“You killed me,” she continued. “I haven’t been alive since that night. I’m the walking dead.”
She said she lost motivation after the attack and couldn’t bring herself to care about herself or others.
“I find it hard to trust any man because of you, a complete stranger,” she said.
She said she feels like she has lost any chance of happiness in life.
“Here I am, four years later, ruined and broken,” she said. “I’ll never get those years back again.”
A local detective garda told the court that on the night in question, the girl sneaked out of her house following an argument with her family over her drinking alcohol earlier that week.
She and a male friend went into the local town before parting ways. The girl was standing in the street at around 4am “cold and afraid to go home”, the court heard. A couple of taxi drivers approached her and asked if they could help her, but she declined.
The man then approached her and asked her to come back to his apartment. He promised her he wouldn’t go near her. The girl eventually agreed and went back to the apartment, which the man was staying in temporarily.
She fell asleep in his bed fully clothed before waking to find him on top of her. He put his hand over her mouth when she screamed before raping her.
The girl eventually left the apartment when the man was taking a shower, the court heard. She confided in her older brothers later that day and they went to the apartment and assaulted the man.
No “responsible adult” was aware of what had happened to the teenager until she confided in a school teacher a few months later, the court heard. Gardaí were then alerted, the man was interviewed and the apartment he had been staying in was searched.
The girl was a virgin and bled on the mattress. Gardaí took samples of the blood, which was found to match the girl’s DNA. The man admitted the girl had stayed with him that night, but denied any sexual activity took place. He claimed the blood on the mattress was menstrual blood.
Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, said the offence was one that falls in the more serious category of offending of this nature, meriting a jail term of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment.
Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said his client does not agree with the guilty verdicts of the jury. He handed up a number of testimonials from family members and a probation report which found the man is at a low risk of reoffending.
The man has worked previously as a chef and was a “positive member of society” in the past, he said.