Fiona Ferguson and Declan Brennan
A man who raped, assaulted and coercively controlled a woman in the course of a six-week relationship has been jailed for 17 years.
On various occasions, Dean Ward (36) sprayed mace into the woman’s face, tied her up, choked her and then raped her, threatened her with a hammer and punched her in the face.
He controlled her access to friends and family, took over her online banking, monitored her whereabouts and her mobile phone, and removed her contraceptive device as she slept.
At the Central Criminal Court on Thursday morning, Justice Kerida Naidoo suspended the final year of an 18-year sentence for the most serious rape offence. He imposed a four-year term, to run concurrently, for an offence of coercive control, which has a maximum sentence of five years.
Speaking outside the court, Sinéad O’Neill, from Killybegs, Co Donegal, said she was speaking out to show others that support was available.
She said she felt stuck in fear but that she received “amazing support” from the moment she reached out to gardaí for help.
She said she hoped her case would encourage anyone out there in an abusive relationship to seek help and confide in somebody. She said she believed that by getting Ward locked up she has saved other women from a similar ordeal.
Ward, of Ballintlea, Hollyfort, Gorey, Wexford, also known as Dean Alexander Fowkes, was previously jailed for four years for falsely imprisoning and assaulting a young mother in November 2015.
Ward and that woman had met on the internet dating website Plenty of Fish, and Ward attacked her on their third date in the woman’s own home.
Garda Superintendent Karen Duffy said the offence of coercive control is a relatively new one, adding that she would encourage any person in an abusive relationship to come to gardaí.
Ward used a different name on first meeting his victim.
He was convicted following a trial earlier this year of four counts of assault, false imprisonment, making a threat to kill, two counts of production of articles, three counts of rape and coercive control on dates between June 11th-July 17th, 2019.
The offences occurred over the course of a six-week period between their meeting for the first time in May 2019 and his arrest by armed gardaí at her home in July 2019.
Ward does not accept the verdict of the jury and continues to maintain his innocence. He has been in custody since his arrest on July 17th, 2019.
Mr Justice Naidoo noted the rapes took place in a controlling relationship and that consent was not freely given.
He said the woman’s acquiescence to sexual intercourse was secured by fear in circumstances where she was subjected to force before the rape or fear as a result of the cumulative effect of Ward’s behaviour over time.
He said the first offence of rape was aggravated by violence and extreme degradation. After a row, Ward had broken into the woman’s home, punched her in the face and told he was going to kill her.
He took her upstairs and pulled out a knife which he used to cut up a towel and then he used the shreds to tie her up and began choking her from behind.
Justice Naidoo said the woman believed she was going to die. Ward knew the woman had a particular fear of drowning and said he would do this.
The woman’s terror at this prospect was so great that she offered to take her own life, the judge said. Ward then raped her, the court heard.
Justice Naidoo set a headline sentence of 18 years for this offence, the most serious of all the offending.
He said there was virtually no mitigation but suspended one year on condition that Ward obey the instructions of the Probation Service after his release.
He imposed lesser sentences on the other offences, all of which are to run concurrently.
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.
Alternatively, you can contact Women’s Aid (24-hour freephone helpline at 1800-341 900, email [email protected]) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01-554 3811, email [email protected]) for support and information.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.