Driver (42) who made sexual advances at young woman hitchhiker is jailed

Man initially denied picking up teenager but admitted it after his car was seen on CCTV

People need to be protected when they are hitchhiking, said a judge as he jailed a 42-year-old man who made sexual advances towards a 17-year-old girl whom he picked up while she was hitchhiking home.

Judge Sean O Donnabhain said it was important people who hitchhike feel safe as he sentenced Petras Petrikauskas to 18 months in jail with the last nine months suspended.

Petrikauskas from Newbridge Park, Skibbereen pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to offensive conduct of a sexual nature near Skibbereen on March 5th 2017 contrary to Section 45 of the Sexual Offences Act 2017.

“It is essential that people be protected when they are hitchhiking - I come from an older generation but hitchhiking is still an innocent and legitimate way of getting about and it needs to be protected,” the judge said.


Det Garda Martin Bohane told how the teenager was hitching out of Skibbereen when Lithuanian national Petrikauskas passed her in the opposite direction only to turn around at a roundabout and come back and collect her.

He didn’t ask her where she was going but he told her that as a young girl she shouldn’t be hitching as it was getting dark. She became concerned when he gave her a smarmy smile and she felt him starting to stare at her constantly.

He left her off in a quiet spot but returned 10 minutes later and she reluctantly got into the car only for him to tell her she was a good looking girl, asked if she had a boyfriend and told her “you are going to give me a hand job.”

CCTV footage

The girl refused and opened the car door. He stopped and she got out of the car and made her way to a nearby house where she saw lights on. From there she contacted her mother who came to collect her.

Less than a week later, the girl contacted gardaí and made a statement giving them a description of the defendant and his car.

Det Garda Bohane said gardaí obtained CCTV footage from the area where Petrikauskas had first picked up the girl and were able to identify his car and trace him. They arrested him for questioning on March 16th 2018.

Petrikauskas initially denied picking up the girl, saying he went straight home from when his car was seen on CCTV footage but in his second interview, he admitted seeing a girl hitching and stopping to give her a lift.

Det Garda Bohane said Petrikauskas had three previous convictions for public order offences including masturbating in front of teenage girls and boys.

He said the offences all occurred over a three day period in 2013 and had been dealt with at District Court level where he was first given the probation act, then fined €500 and he was given a suspended sentence for the third offence.

Very frightened

Det Garda Bohane confirmed to defence barrister, William Bulman BL that the accused had co-operated fully with gardaí when he was arrested and had not come to adverse attention since.

In her victim impact statement the 17-year-old said she was very frightened by the incident and it made her afraid of going out on her own. Now she will never get into a car with a stranger.

She said she had not been sleeping well as a result of the incident but was glad she reported it as she didn’t want anything similar to happen anyone else.

Mr Bulman said his client wanted to apologise to the girl for his behaviour and as a token of his remorse, he had €1,200 in court to offer her. Judge O Donnabhain said she didn’t have to state publicly if she wanted to accept it.

Mr Bulman said his client would lose his job in a company in Dunmanway if he was sent to jail and appealed to the judge not to impose a custodial sentence.

But Judge O Donnabhain said it was disturbing behaviour and what was particularly worrying was that Petrikauskas had engaged in similar behaviour in 2013 and it was now happening again.

Another aggravating factor in the case was that there was an element of premeditation to his actions as he had passed the girl hitching in the opposite direction and driven to a roundabout and turned about to pick her up.

Petrikauskas’s behaviour had had a traumatic effect on the young girl which had left her frightened and insecure to the point that she doubted whether she would actually be able to come to court to give her victim impact statement.

He said given that non-custodial penalties for previous offences seemed to have little impact, he believed a custodial sentence was now merited and he sentenced the defendant to 18 months in jail but suspended the last nine months of the sentence.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times