Man who sexually assaulted woman who later took her life fails to meet probation officer

Thackaberry also moved to an address that was in close proximity to his victim’s family, court told

Michelle Hennessy, who was 26 at the time she was sexually assaulted, faced intimidation and bullying in connection with the attack in the months before she took her own life

Michelle Hennessy, who was 26 at the time she was sexually assaulted, faced intimidation and bullying in connection with the attack in the months before she took her own life

 

A man who engaged in a violent sexual attack on a young woman who later took her own life has repeatedly failed to meet his probation officer since he was released from prison, a court has heard.

Sean Thackaberry (24) failed to meet his probation officer on 12 occasions and made a number of “unacceptable” excuses, including that he was on holidays in France and was viewing rental properties, the Central Criminal Court heard on Monday.

He also moved to an address that was not approved by probation services as it was in close proximity to his victim’s family, probation officer Dermot Lavin said.

The court heard that by moving address without notifying gardaí­ or probation services, Thackaberry was also in breach of the Sex Offenders Act.

Thackaberry, with an address in Church View, Suncroft, Co Kildare, was jailed for seven and a half years in November 2013, with the final two and a half years suspended. He was released from Midlands Prison in June 2017.

He appeared in court on Monday for not complying with the conditions of his release.

Thackaberry was initially charged with rape but later entered a guilty plea at the Central Criminal Court to aggravated sexual assault, which was acceptable to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The incident happened in Kildare town in the early hours of January 30th, 2011.

Thackaberry, then aged 18, was walking Michelle Hennessy home when he threw her over a wall and subjected her to an aggravated sexual assault that lasted 20 minutes.

Ms Hennessy was rescued when passing gardaí­ heard her screams and gave chase to Thackaberry.

The court heard Ms Hennessy, who was 26 at the time, faced intimidation and bullying in connection with the attack in the months before she took her own life.

Release conditions

In court on Monday, Mr Lavin told Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting, that as part of his release conditions, Thackaberry was required to attend probation services meetings and inform them of any change of address.

Thackaberry met Mr Lavin on a few occasions upon his release from prison last June before he stopped turning up to meetings. “He made himself unavailable and he made a number of unacceptable excuses,” Mr Lavin said.

As well as saying he was in France and viewing rental properties, Thackaberry said he was in Dublin on one occasion and twice said he could not make a meeting as he was having surgery for appendicitis. This was never verified by any medical notes or records, Mr Lavin said.

Mr Lavin said Thackaberry also moved out of his parents’ home, which was his approved post-release address, shortly after his release. He lived in Dublin for a while before moving to his grandmother’s home.

This home was deemed unsuitable by probation services as it was close to Ms Hennessy’s family and also because Thackaberry’s grandmother was deemed “ill-equipped to manage him”, Mr Lavin said.

Assault in custody

The court heard Thackaberry was recently jailed for three months for an assault he committed in custody while serving his sentence. He is still in custody.

Michael Bowman SC, defending Thackaberry, said his client’s non-attendance at probation services meetings was a “significant issue”, but he submitted Thackaberry had contacted his probation officer and explained his reasons on most occasions.

He said Thackaberry was now on a methadone programme in custody and was detoxing. He urged Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy to consider reactivating only part of Thackaberry’s suspended sentence, saying he would need further supervision in the community upon his eventual release.

Thackaberry’s father, Stephen Thackaberry, took the stand and said he was willing to give his son one last chance to stay with him and his mother when he was released.

“I’d like to see him home,” Mr Thackaberry said, adding he had received offers of work for his son. However, he said it was ultimately up to his son.

“If he wants to end up behind bars for the rest of his life, that’s up to him,” he said.

Mr Justice McCarthy remanded Thackaberry in continuing custody until March 5th to allow for a number of reports to be compiled. He said he would then consider whether to impose all or some of the suspended portion of Thackaberry’s sentence.

He noted Thackaberry had received a “low” sentence, given the seriousness of the crime, and had been given “every opportunity”. He said he was concerned by the probation officer’s report, especially given Thackaberry’s history.