Kerry rape: why did Hussey carry out such a brutal attack?
Psychology reports give no clues why Hussey broke into house and raped woman twice
Anthony Hussey from Sneem, Co Kerry: sentenced to 13 years for the brutal rape of a 73-year-old woman. Photograph: Michelle Cooper Galvin
There is no such thing as a typical rapist. Experts agree that factors such as addiction, education levels or past offending, which are often useful in predicting criminal behaviour, lose their value when it comes to sex offenders.
Anthony Hussey, who was on Monday sentenced to 13 years for the brutal rape of a 73-year-old woman, is the perfect example. He comes from a close family, has no criminal record and, according to those who know him, was well liked in the small Kerry town where he worked as a barman.
The Central Criminal Court hears the “rape and murder list” every Monday morning when those who plead guilty are sentenced after a summary of the facts are read into the record. The facts in these cases are by their nature distressing. But, even by this yardstick, Hussey’s case stands out.
Why did a seemingly well-adjusted 24-year-old decide to break into an elderly woman’s home and leave her less than an hour later, as she put it: “Broken, terrorised and waiting for death”? And why do professionals who examined him believe he is unlikely to do it again?
In the months after Hussey pleaded guilty he was subject to a series of “risk assessment tools” by the Probation Services and a psychologist hired by his defence team. These tests, with names such as the RM 2000 and STATIC-99, are designed to put a figure on the likelihood that an offender will commit further sexual attacks.
A wide range of factors are examined. How much did the person drink before conviction? Have they got work prospects after they are released? Such things can be tracked and measured, to some degree. Measuring traits such as aggression and intelligence levels, however, are more innate, more subjective. When presented in court the final number can mean the difference between jail and walking away with a suspended sentence.
On the night of September 19th, 2014 there was an 18th birthday in Riney’s Pub in the picturesque town of Sneem, Co Kerry. A big crowd was expected, and Hussey planned to go with his friends when he finished his shift in D O’Shea’s, a pub popular with tourists, on Sneem’s main street. Hussey had worked there for seven years. By 2014 he was the bar’s manager and was well-liked by locals and visitors for his easy-going nature. A few years earlier he had become something of a minor celebrity in the town after appearing on the RTÉ’s Winning Streak and winning a five-figure sum.
He went home after work that night to change. Later he met friends Mike O’Neill and Niall O’Sullivan in the Blue Bar where they started drinking pints. They went to another bar before arriving at the party sometime after midnight. Elsewhere, an elderly woman had by then just completed her bedtime routine. After turning off the television she had checked that the windows, doors and vents were closed. She also locked most of her inner doors, but not the one to her bedroom.
Her victim impact statement was widely reported earlier this year after Hussey’s conviction.
Niall O’Sullivan drove him away, before his car died. Hussey got out, and O’Sullivan decided he was too drunk to continue home and to sleep in the car. The next thing he remembers was being woken by gardaí in the morning.
Sometime later a neighbour of the elderly woman spotted Hussey near her house with no top on. He seemed to have fallen into water. At 7.47am the same neighbour got a phone call from the 73-year-old. She was rambling, almost crying, saying she had just been raped by a man wearing a balaclava.
Her subsequent testimony to gardaí was startling in its detail. Sometime after 6am she had woken to banging on her windows and doors. She crawled to the living room to get her phone charger as her battery was almost dead, and phoned her neighbours for help. A short time later a neighbour called her back. She said there was nothing to worry about, just a drunk who had now left.
It was getting bright by then and the woman was getting over her fright. She went into the bathroom for a wash and when she returned to the bedroom she saw Hussey standing there, dressed all in black and wearing a balaclava. She screamed. Hussey threw her to the floor before assaulting her. Seemingly psychotic or possessed, Hussey kept referring to a “boss” of some kind, she later told gardaí.
“I need to do this,” he told her. “My boss wants me to do this. If you scream there are three more.” He also said he didn’t want any money.
After a while he started to become less violent and his voice became softer. Hussey allowed her to put on a fleece and told her he had got in through a window. The woman later recalled being sure that she had locked all the windows. The attack then resumed and was more brutal than before. Hussey told her, “I’m doing this anyways” before he raped her several times, while saying she “wanted it” and “enjoyed it”.
Afterwards she lay perfectly still, half hoping Hussey would think she was dead. He tucked her in with a duvet and she thought he was about to suffocate her. Hussey told her one last time that she “enjoyed that” before leaving the room without making a sound.
After a few minutes she called her neighbours, her GP and gardaí. She also immediately decided not to wash herself as she did not want to disturb evidence.
The next day, while in Dublin for the All-Ireland Football final, he told Niall O’Sullivan he was “looking at time”. When asked why, Hussey responded that it was only a break-in. He said he had a balaclava on and interrupted the woman as she showered so he put a hand on her shoulder to calm her down.
News of the attack spread quickly. The local newspaper reported upon it. Gardaí took statements from Hussey’s friends who were out that night. Some already suspected Hussey, since it was known by then he had been seen near the woman’s house. In the following weeks he denied to friends that he had committed rape. On one occasion, when a female friend found him “shaking and emotional” in a bar, he told her he could not remember what happened.
He took a similar approach when he was arrested and interviewed three months later. He answered some questions about his movements on the night, but said he could not remember being in the house. When gardaí presented the damning DNA evidence, Hussey responded: “No comment”. The closest he came to a confession was when he was asked outright if he had raped the woman. “I have no memory of it,” he replied.
He had a close group of friends. Like most others he was a keen Gaelic footballer, training twice a week. He also trained twice a week with the local soccer team until both clubs asked him to stop because of the allegations.
It is standard procedure for the defence in a rape case to ask for a psychological report with the understanding that if it is negative, they can choose not to present it. In Hussey’s case it was very positive. There were no signs of worrying personality traits such as resentment towards women, impulsiveness or lack of empathy.
Instead the psychologist believed Hussey was a “typical polite person”, as well as “warm-hearted, enthusiastic and practical”. He concluded: “Given the internal and external risk factors, I am of the opinion that Anthony does not present as a risk to others.”
A Probation Service report was only slightly less positive. It stated Hussey is in the lower end of the “moderate” bracket in terms of reoffending. The reason he is not in the “low” bracket is because of his age, it said. He has more time to reoffend compared with an 80-year-old.
In statistical terms, the Probation Service report estimated there was a 13-19 per cent chance of Hussey sexually reoffending in the next 15 years. The report also stated he could benefit from an offender’s treatment programme, but only if he gave up drinking.
Neither of these reports gave any indication why Hussey committed such a shocking crime. He admitted to watching hardcore pornography and to once visiting a prostitute, but otherwise displayed no worrying sexual or aggressive tendencies.
Then there is the question of how much he drank that night. The phrase “alcohol is not an excuse but it might be an explanation” is often used by defence lawyers during mitigation. However, it was not used in this case. Hussey told gardaí he had about 10 vodkas and four pints, and witnesses described him as being very drunk earlier in the night. The victim also described him as seeming “possessed”. However, he was sober enough to put on black clothes and a balaclava and gain access to the woman’s house, through a locked window, without her hearing him.
There are few answers for Hussey’s victim but she may take some comfort from the fact that she remains in her home while her attacker is now behind bars. In her powerful victim impact report she spoke of a hill near her home that she used to walk up but could no longer do so without company.
“The day will come when I walk to the top of my hill, stand tall, lift up my arms to the sky and scream, scream for all those children and women who have been abused and who can’t cry out in despair, those who had to suffer in silence.”