A woman out walking her dog who was dragged to the ground by a man who stuffed a woolly item in her mouth before going on to sexually assault her, has told a court that she thought she was going to die during the terrifying ordeal.
Vadim Veste (28), formerly of Clancy Street in Fermoy, Co Cork, appeared before the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork last month when he pleaded guilty to the aggravated sexual assault of a woman in her 50s at St Colman’s Park on November 7th, 2021.
He pulled the victim to the ground from behind by placing his hands over her shoulder and her mouth and pulling her backwards in to a dark, unlit part of a walkway. He then punched her before sexually assaulting her.
The court heard that Veste, a Moldovan national who also has Romanian citizenship, had travelled to Ireland just over a fortnight after he was released from prison for the rape of a minor.
Veste had served a three-year prison sentence in Moldova for the rape of a 14-year-old girl in 2016. Mr Veste also has drug convictions and convictions for breaking and entering in Moldova.
He arrived in Ireland on December 29th, 2020, having been released from prison 18 days earlier.
I thought I was going to die
In court on Monday, the victim said she thought her daughter would end up having to identify her body in the park. She added she feared she would die in the course of the ordeal.
She said the assault had changed her life and she was forever grateful to the two men in the park who had come to her assistance.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott heard the woman had been out walking her dog at around 6.30pm on November 7th, 2021, when she was grabbed from behind by Veste.
The woman said she got a smell of sweat and cigarettes and then Veste put a hand over her mouth.
“I tried to fight. He made me get on to the ground and forced his body and knees on me in the pitch dark. I managed to kick him. He managed to put a weight over my mouth and something on to my nose. I thought I was going to die.
“I could feel my breathing stop. I couldn’t breathe. I started to scream. He clenched his fist and put it in my mouth and tore my lips. He tried to loosen my teeth. With all my strength I fought back.
“I didn’t want to die. I actually thought he was going to kill me. I screamed and begged and pleaded with him to stop. He kept squeezing my mouth. He squeezed and squeezed tighter on my nose. I looked up. I couldn’t breathe.
“He managed to squeeze and squeeze tighter. I just punched him. Thank God somebody came to my rescue. Thank God I survived to be here today. He is a very, very dangerous man,” the victim told the court.
“I actually thought I was going to die. All I could do was keep thinking about my daughter. I was thinking about my little girl having to come to the pitch to identify my body,” she added.
The woman told the court that she had given up going for walks in the aftermath of the incident as the assault had left her “in fear of everything”.
“I feel the fear constantly. I was a very confident person but not any more. I will not go out after dark,” she said.
The woman thanked Detective Garda Dave Barry and charity Support After Crime for their assistance in the aftermath of the incident.
Defence barrister Seamus Roche SC said he was unaware that his client had a previous conviction of a sexual nature in Moldova.
He applied for an adjournment of the case to allow Veste to become the subject of a psychological report which he said would be of benefit in the final sentence.
He applied for and was granted free legal aid to pay for the assessment. Legal aid was also granted to facilitate the attendance of an interpreter at such appointments.
Mr Justice McDermott requested that a probation report also be compiled before the next court appearance of Veste, which will occur on June 12th at a sitting of the Central Criminal Court in court. Veste was remanded in custody pending his next court appearance.
The court heard that Veste was a married man with children who was employed in a meat factory in Cork having moved to Ireland 11 months before the assault.
The court heard Veste, who lived with his mother in Fermoy for a period, has very poor English and required an interpreter in court.
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.