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Hospital worker molested patient while she slept

Folajimmy Awode
Folajimmy Awode

A man who sexually assaulted a patient while working as a care assistant at the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin has received a prison sentence of two years with six months suspended.

Folajimmy Awode (31) of Ballinteer House, Tyrellstown, Dublin had pleaded not guilty to sexual assault of a female patient at the Mater Private Hospital, Eccles Street in November 2013.

Last month a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court returned a majority guilty verdict after a three day trial.

Awode was working as a part-time care assistant in the woman's ward and had cleaned the toilet that evening at her request. Before going to sleep around 11pm the woman, who cannot be identified, had taken a muscle relaxant for her back.

She told the trial that she later awoke to feel rubbing on her right breast. She opened her eyes and the sensation seemed to stop. “Because of where I was, in hospital, you're just not expecting this to be the case, so I closed my eyes again,” she testified.

Folajimmy Awode outside court

The sensation resumed when she once again closed her eyes. She then turned over and saw Awode standing by her bed and moving his hand away from her body.

“I looked at him. He looked totally stunned and just took off,” she said.

Another patient in the ward told gardai that she was sitting up reading and saw Awode coming into the ward twice and leave again. She said after she had turned her reading light off and lay down to sleep she saw Awode come into the ward a third time and go to the bed of the injured party.

Judge Patricia Ryan said there was an element of planning and pre-meditation to the crime. She said the breach of trust was another aggravating factor.

“She was a patient. She had taken sleeping medication. She was either asleep or trying to go to sleep,” Judge Ryan said.

She suspended the last six months of a two year prison term and placed Awode on the Sex Offenders' Register. Judge Ryan said that she had to consider his previously good employment record and the extra hardship of custody on someone who is not from this country.

The father of two has two previous convictions for dangerous driving and having no insurance. He previously worked for Eagle Eye Security and had done work experience in St Mary's Hospital in the Phoenix Park. He had worked at the Mater for three years before this incident.

Michael Hourigan BL, defending, handed in a testimonial from Awode's widowed sister who said he is a tremendous help to her and her children. Counsel said he came here from Nigeria at the age of 17 seeking asylum and was later granted residency.

The woman told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, she entered the hospital on a date in November 2013 to have surgery the next day. She was given painkillers and valium for pain relief and to help her get to sleep.

A witness, who occupied another bed in the room that night, told Ms Duffy, that as she lay in bed she saw Awode entering and quickly leaving the room twice, before entering a third time and going to the victim's bedside.

She said she could only see his legs as there was a curtain partially drawn around the bed, and that he remained at her bedside for two or three minutes before rushing out.

“He scurried out of the room and almost immediately (the woman) jumped out of the bed,” said the witness. She said the woman “shouted that someone had been at her chest”.

During the trial defense counsel Mr Hourigan asked the victim if she told a nurse she may have been dreaming, but she said that she had told the nurse “I wasn't dreaming”.

Nurse Trisana Joseph, who was first to meet the woman after the incident, gave evidence that the woman had said she felt she was dreaming when she first felt the sensation, but then woke up when she felt it again. She also said the woman looked stressed and asked if there had been someone in the room.

Dr Padraic O'Neill, a retired neurosurgeon, gave evidence that the medication given to the victim would have had no cognitive or sedative effect on her.

In a garda interview that was read to the court, Awode said he went to the woman's bedroom because someone was coughing, and went to her bedside for a few seconds to check on her and saw she was asleep.