Victim of sexual assault ‘disgusted’ by behaviour of attacker and onlookers

Incident was ‘every young woman’s nightmare’, judge tells court

Rachel McElroy, pictured at Cork Criminal court, said the attacks had left her feeling empty, disgusted and lacking in confidence. Photogrph:  Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Rachel McElroy, pictured at Cork Criminal court, said the attacks had left her feeling empty, disgusted and lacking in confidence. Photogrph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

A young woman has spoken of her disgust at the way she was sexually assaulted during a night out with college friends while passers by recorded the incident and posted footage on social media.

She says the six years sentence her attacker received is “a better outcome” than she expected and that after struggling emotionally in the aftermath of the incident she has found the support she has received since speaking out to have been “fantastic”.

Former karate champion Bagrat Kudzievi of Albert Road, Cork city, who was living in Ireland illegally, was sentenced to six years for the assault and has been ordered to return to his native Georgia on his release from custody.

The 29-year-old was unanimously convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin in early November following a trial in which he faced two counts of the sexual assault of Rachel McElroy at locations in Cork city centre on the evening of October 19th, 2019.

The victim was just 18 when the incidents occurred and it was her first night out with college friends.

Ms McElroy, who watched the sentencing hearing by video link in Cork, said that she wanted to be identified in media reports about the case.

She spoke movingly after the sentencing hearing, urging other people who find themselves in her position to come forward.

Ms Justice Tara Burns, who sentenced Kudzievi at a sitting of the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, told Ms McElroy that she had experienced “every young woman’s worst nightmare”.

“This was an innocent night out. A bunch of young women enjoying themselves. A small amount of alcohol was consumed and for whatever reason it had a significant effect on the young woman. CCTV from outside the nightclub shows her in an incapable state. ”

The court heard that CCTV showed Rachel falling inside the venue and struggling to walk outside the nightclub.

Ms Justice Burns said that Rachel had sat down beside Kudzievi in the smoking area at 10.20pm on the night of the assault.

Seven minutes later he was walking her to an alcove where he sexually assaulted her.

Filming

Ms Justice Burns said that people started filming the pair on their mobile phones. Kudzievi then lifted Ms McElroy up and carried her across a bridge and put her on a footpath. She said that the defendant starting a “grinding motion” on top of the victim.

Bouncers who were concerned for the welfare of the young woman, and who had followed them, intervened and separated the pair.

Ms Justice Burns said that Ms McElroy was hugely impacted by what had occurred to her. “She ended up dropping out of college. Losing her confidence and feeling empty and lost. He (the defendant) subjected her to degrading behaviour. She was filmed by strangers in a state of undress. This is extremely serious.”

Ms Justice Burns jailed Kudzievi for seven years with one year suspended. The sentence was backdated to October 2019 when Kudzievi first entered custody in relation to the matter. He had claimed the incident was consensual.

Detective Garda Donal Daly said that the defendant moved to Ireland three years ago and lived under a Polish identity which he used to get a social security number. Kudzievi is without any previous convictions in this or other jurisdictions.

He has given an undertaking to leave the jurisdiction upon his release from custody having been ordered to do so by the court. Defence barrister Tom Creed, SC, said that his client was a former national champion of karate in Georgia as well as a a silver medallist at European championships.

Speaking after the sentencing, Ms McElroy stated that she decided to waive her right to anonymity in order to reach other people who may have suffered similar trauma to hers.

“It is okay to speak up about stuff like this. It is never okay to hold it in. It impacts so much on your life and I feel like talking about it even to strangers helps me a lot and has lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders,” she said.

“I find it very healing. Speaking out and helping other people.The amount of help and support I got from speaking out was fantastic.

‘Horrible’

“It was my first college night out with my friends. We went out to enjoy ourselves. It is a night I have no memory of, only of being in the Garda station getting my mouth swabbed. How could people have thoughts like that?

“To take something from someone’s life that they will never be able to get back. It was a horrible thing to do. For that man I have no sympathy. I am very disgusted.”

Ms McElroy said in the aftermath of the incident she turned to alcohol for a period but with the assistance of her family, friends and Det Garda Donal Daly she has managed to get her life back on a more even keel.

Ms McElroy admitted that she was hurt that strangers had decided to record what the defendant was doing to her outside the nightclub instead of seeking help.

“I found them very disrespectful. I was disgusted in that. They could have helped or pulled us apart. But they would rather taken a video and put it all over social media.”

The trial had been tough, she said but “the sentence is a better outcome than I expected. I am very happy. I am walking out of here today and he is not.”