A convicted rapist has been removed from court during his sentence hearing after he repeatedly interrupted proceedings, tried to sack his barrister and called his victim, a grandmother in her fifties, a “filthy prostitute”.
Richard O'Brien (57) of Arlington Lodge, Church Street, Tralee, lured his victim to a caravan in Dublin before raping her, assaulting her and biting her during a sustained and vicious attack on March 19th, 2011.
He then fled to the UK before being extradited in 2013. He was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of rape, attempted rape, false imprisonment and assault causing harm.
At the start of his sentence hearing at the Central Criminal Court on Monday , O'Brien repeatedly interrupted the proceedings, ordering prosecution barrister Anne Rowland SC to "get her facts straight", before turning on his defence barrister, Damien Colgan SC, and telling him: "On your bike".
After giving O’Brien several warnings, Mr Justice Tony Hunt ordered that he be removed from court. As he was led away, O’Brien turned towards his victim and verbally abused her.
The sentence hearing continued after the judge asked Mr Colgan to continue to represent O’Brien. He has already sacked at least one legal team and is “the client from hell”, Mr Justice Hunt said.
Garda Ruth Brett told Ms Rowland that the victim, who can not be named for legal reasons, was having birthday drinks with friends in a Dublin pub when O’Brien offered to buy her a drink. He then invited her back to a house party, telling her it was his sister’s birthday.
However, when the woman arrived at the home, she became uneasy and asked to get a taxi home. O’Brien invited her into a caravan at the back of the property on the pretext of ordering her a cab, but once inside he told her, “There’s no effing sister and there’s no effing taxi either”.
He then pushed her on to the bed, punched her repeatedly, bit her on the chest and neck and raped her. The woman fainted at one point during the attack, which went on for some time, the court heard.
It ended only after two men entered the caravan and stopped O’Brien. The woman fled the scene and was picked up by a couple in a car who took her to a garda station. She was then taken to a sexual assault treatment unit.
One of the men who entered the caravan also made a detailed statement to gardaí about what he had seen.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, the woman said she has had nightmares every night for the last five years. She said the attack led to the breakdown of her 23-year relationship and she had suicidal thoughts. She said her relationship with her children and grandchildren has suffered as a result.
“For the last five years of my life I have been existing, not living,” she said.
The court heard O’Brien has a previous conviction for rape and false imprisonment of a woman. He left school at the age of 15 and worked in the UK as a labourer and truck driver. Mr Colgan said he suffers from arthritis and sciatica and has recently been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He has been married twice and has seven children, but is estranged from his family.
Mr Justice Hunt adjourned the matter for two weeks, saying he needed to consider sentencing. “This woman was beaten up as well as raped. It’s a very bad set of facts,” he said.
The judge also expressed concern at O’Brien’s behaviour in court, saying “one gets a very real flavour” of his character. “This man, even in the context of the Central Criminal Court, appears to have difficulty restraining himself. That is very worrying,” he said.
He adjourned the matter for sentencing on December 12th.