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No jail for Stephen McCarthy despite sex assault conviction

Stephen McCarthy
Stephen McCarthy

A woman who was sexually assaulted by a man as she slept in her own bed at a house party said “justice hasn’t been done” after he walked free from court with a suspended sentence.

Stephen McCarthy (23), from Esker Hills, Portlaoise, Co Laois left Ireland for Australia following the attack, but was charged when he returned home.

He initially told gardaí he “tripped and landed on top of” the victim who has been left devastated following the attack.

However, he eventually admitted the offence, which took place at a house in Dublin, in June 2013.

Judge Martin Nolan admitted the attack had been a “particularly disturbing event” for the woman. He also said it was “reprehensible” that McCarthy did not make candid admissions at the time.

However, he let McCarthy walk free on a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence after taking his guilty plea into account, along with his lack of previous convictions and that he offered €2,000, which the victim is donating to charity, as a “token of remorse”.

A friend of the victim said she went through the tough process of the court system so the same thing or worse wouldn’t happen to another woman .

“She just wanted him to admit what he done. She just wanted justice but knew it would be lenient given the system in this country. She said justice hasn’t been done,” said the victim’s friend

Judge Nolan previously gave a suspended sentence to Graham Griffiths, who sexually assaulted an 18-year-old, on condition he pay €15,000 compensation.

He also gave a suspended sentence to a man who sexually assaulted his neighbour while her son lay in bed beside her.

The victim’s friend said: “The judge has a history of being too lenient in cases like these and she was worried this would happen.”

Garda Mary Brophy told the court that the woman had gone to sleep in her bedroom at about 1.30am following the party and awoke later that night feeling “something weird”.

McCarthy had his fingers in her vagina and was moving in to kiss her. She screamed and jumped out of bed.

Her sister came up to the room, but found no-one there. She went to another room and saw McCarthy there, but suspected he was just pretending to be asleep.

He was later arrested and initially told Gardaí that he had tripped, landed on top of the victim and she had screamed. He had been released without charge following his Garda interviews and a few months later had left to work abroad.

The victim told how one of the hardest things to come to terms with was that it happened in her own bed where she should have been at her safest, but McCarthy took that away from her.

“These actions have taken away a piece of the person I was that I don’t think I can ever get back,” she said.

She told how she now suffers from anxiety and constantly worries about everything.

“I find it extremely hard to trust in any relationships I make. I felt a lot of anger, distress and upset when I heard Stephen McCarthy had left the country soon after this happened and only just returned because of this now.”

She added that she has since started counselling and said because she is a strong woman and had a strong family around her she will not let it mentally destroy her.