Thursday, May 18, 2023

Paul Neilan

A man who violently sexually assaulted his estranged wife, who recorded him on camera telling her he had “every right” to touch her, is to spend an extra eight months in jail after a successful appeal by the State.

The 27-year-old Kildare resident, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his former wife and their child, initially received a five-year prison sentence with the final 20 months suspended and was due to be released on Friday.

When sentencing him at the Central Criminal Court, Ms Justice Karen O’Connor said this was a frightening and menacing ordeal for the victim who was attacked in her own home where she had a right to feel safe.

She set a headline sentence of seven and a half years, which she reduced to five years in light of the mitigating factors. She said the most significant of these was the man’s guilty plea which spared the victim the ordeal of a contested trial.

The woman’s distressed 999 call following the attack was played to the three-judge Court of Appeal on Monday, along with two videos the woman recorded on her phone prior to the incident.

In the videos, which lasted for a number of minutes, the woman can be heard repeatedly pleading with the man to leave the house.

“Please leave the house, I’m begging you, please leave,” she states.

The man can be heard replying: “I’m not taking this crap. Until it’s over, I’m your husband and I have every right to touch you.” The video recordings ended when the man lunged at the woman.

Guilty plea

The man pleaded guilty to the aggravated sexual assault of his estranged wife at her home in Co Kildare on November 19th, 2020. Two other counts of sexual assault were taken into consideration.

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the court would quash the existing sentence which was due to expire on Friday and re-sentence the defendant.

In outlining the facts of the case, Mr Justice Birmingham said the man came to the home of his estranged wife on the pretence of fixing a burst tyre on her car.

During his time at the house, the man pushed her up against the wall and put his hand inside her underwear.

The complainant broke free and began filming the male in the house, begging him to leave.

The man then took her phone, pushed her face down on the bed and pulled down the struggling woman’s leggings and underwear. He then undid his belt and tried to penetrate the screaming woman.


The woman managed to grab her phone and alerted the emergency services who saw the complainant at the upstairs window. The male, who has an acquired brain injury, made immediate admissions to gardaí.

Mr Justice Birmingham described the video evidence as “disturbing” and said it caused “no doubt a great deal of distress” to the woman.

In her victim impact report, the woman said the brain injury, caused by a 30-foot balcony fall, had a significant effect on the man and that she arranged new locks on doors and windows.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the woman had at one point a protection order against the man and had stayed in a women’s refuge.

The judge said the headline sentence of seven-and-a-half years was “very lenient”. He said the Court of Appeal was “obliged to re-sentence” and quashed the original sentence.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the Court of Appeal had identified eight-and-a-half years as a headline sentence and would then reduce it by one third to five years and eight months’ imprisonment before he suspended the final 20 months.

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