Wednesday, March 15, 2023

High Court reporters

A man who sexually assaulted a nurse in a psychiatric unit has avoided jail with a suspended sentence, a court has heard.

Martin Joyce (42) of Ballybough House in Dublin, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman as she went about her duties at a Dublin hospital on October 29th, 2020.

The court heard that Joyce was a voluntary inpatient at the time and was heavily medicated for schizophrenia, although this was subsequently found to be a misdiagnosis.

At a hearing in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday, Judge Martin Nolan said it was a gross assault and very frightening for the nurse, who should not have had to endure it.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” said Judge Nolan, noting that although Joyce was not insane at the time, he was labouring under certain mental health problems.

He said Joyce was now dealing with those problems and was in a much better place.

Garda Stephen Allen told Conor McKenna BL, prosecuting, that the assault took place at about 11pm at night, after Joyce had been transferred to the main ward following assessment.

After meals had been prepared for the patients, the nurse checked Joyce’s chart, chatted to a colleague in the kitchen and brought another patient to his room.

She later told gardaí that when she came out of this room and into the corridor, Joyce was there staring at her with a big smile on his face before he lunged at her.

He grabbed her breasts with both hands, she told gardaí, then slid his hands down to her bottom as if he were trying to frisk her.

The nurse pressed her personal alarm and screamed or shouted something like, “Get off!” and managed to slide away from him along the wall.

The patient she had brought to his room came out and Joyce turned into a female four-bed dorm and slammed the door.

Staff got him, and he made full admissions to gardaí and expressed remorse to the victim.

When cautioned, he replied: “I am guilty. I did assault her.”

The woman told gardaí she felt terrified and had a small scratch on her wrist and redness on her shoulder.

A previous psychiatric report had diagnosed Joyce with schizophrenia, but a new report last year changed this diagnosis to one of emotionally unstable personality disorder.

Joyce has seven previous convictions all from the District Court, including assault, malicious damage and failure to comply with garda direction.

Luigi Rea BL, defending, said Joyce was highly medicated at the time of the assault, and although he had been initially detained for schizophrenia, he was now being correctly treated for personality disorder.

Mr Rea said it was his client’s first time in the Circuit Court and noted that the DPP has accepted that the offence was at the medium to lower end of the range for sexual assault.

Judge Nolan said Joyce’s remorse was sincere and ordered him to be of good behaviour for one year and abide by the supervision of Probation Services.

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, or visit Rape Crisis Help. 

In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112. 

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