A man who sexually assaulted a sleeping woman has been jailed for 39 months, with the final nine months suspended.
The 38-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of the victim, had taken a photo of the woman and sent it to her along with a message in which he said he had performed a sex act on her.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the woman had locked her door and that she believes the man accessed her bedroom by climbing through an open window via a balcony.
The man pleaded guilty to sexual assault at an address in Co Dublin on either June 1st or June 2nd, 2018. He has four previous convictions, including for drink-driving.
Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Melanie Greally said the offence was committed at the conclusion of an evening of social activity where the accused consumed alcohol and other substances.
She said the woman had been asleep and the precise details of the duration and nature of the offence were not available to the court. She said it constituted a very serious breach of trust in the context of the friendship between the pair at the time.
She said that without the woman’s “consent, permission or knowledge” her photo had been taken and was sent to her the following day with remarks which initiated the investigation.
The judge noted the traumatic effect the offence has had on the victim, affecting every area of her life.
She took into account the man’s guilty plea, limited previous convictions for unrelated matters, his significant addiction issues and family circumstances.
The judge said it was vital to incorporate a rehabilitated element to prevent recurrence and imposed 39 months with the final nine months suspended for 12 months. Conditions include participating in offence-related assessments and co-operation with drug and alcohol misuse intervention.
During an earlier sentence hearing, a local detective told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the victim had two friends over to her apartment, including the accused man. Her other friend left in a taxi, but the man refused to leave.
The detective said there was no arrangement for the man to stay over in the apartment. The man was going in and out of the bathroom and the victim observed white powder coming from his nose.
The man tried to persuade her to let him sleep in her bed and tried to kiss her. The woman pushed him towards the sofa, told him he could sleep there and then went into her bedroom, locking the door behind her.
The next day the woman woke up and was alone in her bed. She spoke with the man over text and he sent her a photograph of the two of them in her bed with her being asleep, though he denied he had snuck into her bedroom.
The woman knew she had locked her door, but she slept with her bedroom windows open and thought the man must have climbed into her bedroom after accessing the windows via the balcony.
The man said he was going to send the photograph to her mother and then in the messages he used the phrase “I lick you out too”, meaning he had performed a sexual act on her.
In interview with gardaí following his arrest, he claimed the message was something of a joke, that there had been oral sex but that the behaviour between them was consensual.
The detective agreed with Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, that his client did send text messages to the victim in which he said he was sorry. He agreed there were references in the evidence to the accused having consumed alcohol and drugs on the night in question.
On Monday, defence counsel said the accused accepts responsibility and accepts the account of the woman. He asked the court to take into account the detailed probation report outlining difficulties in his life and letters showing him to be an otherwise decent person.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.