Rapist had history of severe behavioural problems, court told

Eoin Berkley had ‘very difficult and interrupted upbringing’, barrister tells court

Eoin Berkley’s development was significantly compromised by separation from people once close to him, and by possible sexual abuse experiences, Mr Justice Michael White noted. Photograph: Collins Courts

When gardaí arrested Eoin Berkley, who has been given a 14-year sentence for rape, they found it difficult to interview him; and difficult, too, to discern fantasy from truth in what he was saying.

Berkley told them that everybody in his family was bipolar. He reported seeing things that were not there and making friends with people who were not there either, the court heard.

Before his arrest, he was taking 20mg of Denzapine, an anti-psychotic drug, yet he spent most of his days hanging around a public place known as “the benches” near Dame Street in Dublin city centre.

There he and other vagrant people would congregate and get into fights, the court heard. He was well known to gardaí working in the city and often presented in conditions that caused concern for his mental health.


At one point he walked around the city dressed in a “raccoon onesie”, which his own barrister Michael Bowman SC described as “bizarre behaviour”.

Outlining a life marked by a “very, very difficult and interrupted upbringing”, Mr Bowman said alcohol had been a considerable feature of Berkley’s family life. His mother had considerable psychological difficulties, worsened by drink.

Foster care

She knew that she could not look after her son, and put Berkley into foster care. By the age of four he was placed permanently in Health Service Executive care. By the time he was six in 1999, reports indicated that he was then doing well.

However, in that same year, his natural father died. Berkley also lost his foster father, with whom he had developed a close bond, when the foster-home marriage broke down.

Thereafter, there were concerns about Berkley’s development, and he had contact with a significant number of agencies. By eight, he was clinically diagnosed with a speech and language impairment and later with a developmental language disorder.

His incapacity to communicate led to him becoming defensive and this affected his progress in school, his lawyers told the court.

By the age of 12 his behavioural problems had become worse and he was taken out of school for extreme violence. He never went back. Berkley never achieved any formal qualifications.

Records show that by the age of 14 his links with his foster family had broken down because he was too difficult to manage. He was institutionalised at the Ballydowd centre in Lucan, Co Dublin, which deals some of the country's most troubled youths.

He was reported as having no control over himself during his teenage years. On leaving Ballydowd he began “a period of flux”, his lawyers said, where he moved between an “unconventional” family home and homelessness.

Some accounts suggest that Berkley was then exposed to sexually-abusive behaviour, Mr Bowman said. Before sentencing, Mr Justice White said he would take into account all the background before deciding on sentencing.

Berkley’s development had been significantly compromised by separation from people once close to him, and by possible sexual abuse experiences, the judge noted.

With doctors, Berkley was aggressive and agitated, threatening one doctor with assault.

His counsel told the court that a month before Berkley abducted and raped a teenage Spanish student, a Dublin-based Garda inspector directed Berkley’s detention under the Mental Health Act.

Under the Act he was seen by a doctor, but he was deemed fit to be released. Two days later Berkley’s brother rang a Garda station and said he needed to be detained. However, his brother was told that there was no basis for this, advising his brother to seek medical care for Berkley.