A 37-year-old man has been jailed for 7½ years for breaking into the home of a 91-year-old woman and sexually assaulting her just five months after he arrived in Ireland.
Eugeniu Olan, who is originally from Moldova and moved to Ireland from Italy, pleaded guilty at Waterford Circuit Court in November to charges of burglary, sexual assault and assaulting a police officer in the course of their duty.
On July 4th, 2021, the elderly victim, who lived with her carer, was asleep at her home, when her carer was awoken at 2.50am by a loud bang, which was followed by another, 10-15 minutes later.
The house has three locks on the front door and window shutters. Two of the shutters are controlled by a motor and one manually. On the night in question, the shutters were down and the windows were closed but not locked.
Nearly 30 minutes later, the carer looked at a monitor in the living room and saw a man at the front door. She then noticed that the manually operated shutter was in the raised position. At 3.34am she rang for help.
In a six-minute call to Det Jennifer Ryan, the carer could be heard trying to stop the man getting into the house, telling him 21 times to "get out!" and telling him the gardaí were on their way.
“He’s trying to get in. He’s half way in the window. He’s in the house,” she said on the phone call. Meanwhile, the 91-year-old woman had awoken, though she said later that she thought at first she had had a bad dream.
Having listened to the desperate screams of her carer, it then “all of a sudden went quiet”, she said. Suddenly, a man dressed in black appeared. He pulled the blankets off her bed and then pulled her nightdress up to her shoulders.
She said she was “curled up in a ball … terrified”. By now, she was certain he wanted to harm her “in a sexual way”. He grabbed her left leg “very forcibly”. She kicked out, saying she “didn’t know where she got the strength from”, connected with his chest and stomach and he fell back and hit the wall.
Local gardaí were alerted at 3.37am, and officers were at the house within three minutes. During a struggle, Olan was “very aggressive” and forced one garda to the ground and then jumped on top of him.
He got the garda in a headlock. The garda feared his arm was going to be broken. Another garda used pepper spray. Faced with more “extremely aggressive” actions, they eventually used batons to subdue Olan.
Having restrained Olan, the gardaí then discovered the elderly woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, “curled in a ball between the wall and the bed”. She did not realise at first they were gardaí.
Gardaí also noticed blood on the bed and her nightdress on the floor. She was brought to University Hospital Waterford, where she underwent an examination. A number of significant injuries were recorded, including bruising to the left side of her neck, right forearm, left hand and leg.
The report noted that she had managed to fight off her attacker before any further sexual assault could occur. Her wounds subsequently became infected, and they have still not fully healed.
Prosecuting, Conor O'Doherty BL said Olan had arrived in Ireland in February 2021, staying with relatives in Tramore.
He has convictions in Italy for theft, carrying weapons and damage to public property. There, he had been sentenced to more than two years in jail, but it is unclear if this was served. Defending, Patrick McCarthy BL said Olan would have to serve any outstanding prison sentence in Italy later.
In a letter read out, Olan said: “I was drunk and had not realised what I was doing. I apologise and I am very sorry for everything that happened. I apologise to everyone this has affected. I am in front of you, dear judge, with a thousand apologies and much regret.”