A man who sexually assaulted two women one after another at the end of a night out has been jailed for four and a half years.
One of the victims had previously known Martin Burke (26) when on the night of August 26th, 2018 she met him again in a Kerry town. She invited him back to her home where the two of them sat up in the kitchen with her brother and his girlfriend.
The Central Criminal Court heard that there was a good atmosphere and there was drinking and some cannabis was consumed. When the party broke up, Burke tried to kiss the first woman, but she told them they were just good friends, and she showed him to a bed in a spare room.
Burke followed the woman into her room and became violent, biting her cheek and then sexually assaulting her. The woman managed to convince him to go outside to a shed where she then kicked him and escaped from him.
Burke went back into the house and into the bedroom where the second woman was sleeping. She woke up and didn’t know what he was doing there.
Burke asked her was she alright and he then grabbed her breast. She told him to get out, and he left but came back in a short time later and put his hands under the bedsheets and felt the girl’s thigh.
She kicked at him and he went away, and the woman told her partner what had just happened.
Burke, with an address in Tralee, Co Kerry, had pleaded not guilty of four counts of sexual assault at a place in Co Kerry. A jury at the Central Criminal Court convicted him of three counts relating to the two victims and acquitted him on one count.
Colman Cody SC, defending, said his client accepts the jury verdict and has expressed shame and remorse. He said the offending took place against a background of intoxication on the night and general misuse of alcohol and drugs.
He said this was a period of personal turmoil for his client and he had sought comfort and support from alcohol and drugs. He said he has been doing well since going into custody last January.
No real acceptance
Justice Paul McDermott imposed an operative sentence of five and a half years, but suspended the final 12 months on condition that Burke continue to engage with the Probation Service for a period of three years after his release. He also ordered that he stay away from the victims and not have any contact whatsoever with them.
The judge noted there is no real acceptance by Burke of the harm his actions have caused and that he maintains his version of events on the night.
He said while Burke states he accepts the trial outcome, “This isn’t a clear acceptance of knowledge or guilt.” He said a Probation Services assessment stated that Burke has hostility towards women, shows a lack of concern for others and has alcohol and drug abuse issues.
Justice McDermott said the attack on the first woman involved a penetrative sexual assault and violence and had engendered fear in the victim. He said it was a hugely degrading attack in the woman’s own home and constituted a clear breach of the trust and hospitality shown by her.
He said the assaults of the second woman were “brazen offences” by which Burke showed no regard or respect for her dignity. He said he had tried to lure her into the kitchen and then assaulted her twice while her boyfriend lay asleep in the bed.
He noted that Burke has no previous convictions for sexual offending.
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.