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'Shocking case' Man (37) jailed after breaking into home of woman (91) and sexually assaulting her

"My mind can’t stop thinking about how he pulled the blankets off me and pulled me down in my bed, pulling up my night dress and pulling my legs apart. These images just won’t go away, leaving me feel helpless like a rag doll.”

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A 37-YEAR-old man has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for breaking into the home of a 91-year old woman and sexually assaulting her. 

Eugeniu Olan, of Midlands Prison, who arrived in Ireland from Italy just five months prior to the assault, pleaded guilty last November at Waterford Circuit Court to charges of burglary, sexual assault and assaulting a police officer in the course of their duties.

Giving evidence, Detective Garda Jennifer Ryan said that in the early hours of July 4, 2021, the elderly victim was at her home with her live-in carer.

The property was well protected with three locks on the front door and shutters on the windows. Two of the shutters were controlled by a motor and one manually. On the night in question, the shutters were down and the windows were closed, but not locked.

At 2:50am the carer was awoken by a loud bang, which was followed by another, 10-15 minutes later. Det Gda Ryan said that it sounded like a “football hitting the window”.

At 3:20am, the carer looked at a monitor, which was located in the living room and saw a man standing at the front door. As she turned, she noticed that the manual shutter was up on one of the windows. At approximately 3:34am she rang 112 on her phone.

According to Det Gda Ryan, the call lasted six minutes, throughout which the carer described everything that was unfolding in the house as she attempted to resist the man with a timber pole.

She said that a man was trying to get into the house and according to the call transcript, shouted at him “approximately 21 times” to “get out!” She told the man that the guards were on the way and described how he was gaining access to the house. “He’s trying to get in. He’s half way in the window. He’s in the house.”

The carer then ran out of the property but remained on the call, while the other occupant of the house - a 91-year-old woman - lay in bed. According to Gda Ryan, the elderly lady was awoken by the sound of her carer shouting at someone to “get out”.

She said that she thought it was a dream at first but soon realised that it wasn’t. She had been listening to the desperate screams of her carer but then “all of a sudden it went quiet” and she said she didn’t know what was happening. Suddenly, a man all dressed in black appeared at her bedroom door with a stick in his hand. The man came over to the lady’s bed and took the blanket off her, pulling them down to the end of the bed.

According to the lady’s statement in the book of evidence, the man pulled her nightie up to her shoulders. She said she was “curled up in a ball… terrified” and then the man pushed his hands forcibly against the left side of her neck to straighten her up on the bed.

She said she could hear the man talking in a language that she couldn’t understand. She said that he ripped off her incontinence pad and threw it on the pillow.

In her evidence, the lady said that she was certain that the man wanted to harm her “in a sexual way”. She said that he grabbed her left leg “very forcibly”. She kicked out, saying that she “didn’t know where she got the strength from”, connected with his chest and stomach and he fell back and hit the wall.]

According to Det Gda Ryan, the Garda station received the call at 3:37am and arrived at the property at approximately 3:40am. Garda O’Callaghan entered the house and saw Mr Olan running from the bedroom. He shouted “stop… Garda” and attempted to restrain him.

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A struggle ensued and the burglar became extremely violent in his attempt to resist arrest. He was “very aggressive” and made several attempts to grab the Gardai, whilst screaming in a language they couldn’t understand. He forced the Garda to the ground and then jumped on top of him.

He got the guard into a headlock, who according to Det Gda Ryan, feared that he was going to break his arm. Another Garda, Gda Kelly, employed pepper spray to force Olan to let go of his arm. He again tried to escape, while screaming, shouting and being “extremely aggressive”. Gardai eventually restrained him with their officially issued batons.

Once Olan was restrained in handcuffs, Gardai noticed the elderly lady, “three metres behind him, curled in a ball between the wall and the bed”. They asked if she was okay and she replied: “No… he tried to rape me… thank God my husband is dead.” Gardai also noticed blood on the bed and her nighty on the floor.

The lady said in evidence that she didn’t know they were guards at first, that she was terrified. She was brought to University Hospital Waterford via ambulance where she had to undergo a sex assault exam. A number of significant injuries were recorded in her medical report, including bruising to the left side of her neck, right forearm, left hand and leg. It was noted that the lady had managed to fight him off before any further sexual assault could occur.

Her wounds subsequently became infected requiring further treatment and antibiotics. The court heard that her injuries were still not fully healed.

Prosecuting for the State, Conor O’Doherty, BL, said that Eugeniu Olan was a Moldovan man with a Romanian passport, and had come to Ireland from Italy in February 2021.

He had a number of previous convictions in Italy for theft, carrying weapons and damage to public property. He had been sentenced to two years, one month and 29 days in prison but it wasn’t established whether this sentence had been served. Defending, Patrick McCarthy BL said that Mr Olan would have to serve that outstanding prison sentence whenever he returned to Italy.

He read out a letter from his client, which had been addressed to the court. It stated that Mr Olan, who was aided throughout the sentencing hearing by a translator, “was regretful of everything”.

“I was drunk and had not realised what I was doing,” he said. “I apologise and I am very sorry for everything that happened. I apologise to everyone this has affected. I am in front of you dear judge with a thousand apologies and much regret.”

The first victim impact statement read to the court was from the victim’s carer, who shouted at Mr Olan 21 times to leave the house. She said that she was too afraid to see her attacker again so her statement was read by Det Gda Ryan.

In it, she said that after that night her “life changed dramatically” and affected “every aspect of her day and especially night”. She said that she couldn’t eat or sleep in the days afterwards and her children had to stay with her at all times.

“Every time I close my eyes”, she said, “I can see his face coming through the window”.

She says that she regularly has panic attacks when she thinks about that night “making her body shake from head to toe”. She said that to this day, when she hears a knock on her front door, or sees shadows at her window, she’s terrified and lives in constant fear of being attacked or hurt.

The victim impact statement of the 91-year-old victim was read aloud to the court by her daughter. In it, the lady stated that she was “never nervous staying in her home at night” but this has “all changed since the traumatic events of July 4, 2021”.

“This man has taken my independence away,” she said. “This makes me feel sad and angry. The traumatic events have had an everlasting effect on my life. I feel very anxious and vulnerable all the time. I don’t allow my carers to answer the door anymore unless I know exactly who is at the door. This creates fear and distress on me, which affects my breathing, resulting in me needing to use my nebuliser for some time. This would never have happened to me before. I do not feel safe or secure in my own home any longer."

"As it happened at night and the intruder entered my room with the lights off, I still see the image of this large man coming into my bedroom when I close my eyes.

"My mind can’t stop thinking about how he pulled the blankets off me and pulled me down in my bed, pulling up my night dress and pulling my legs apart. These images just won’t go away, leaving me feel helpless like a rag doll.”

The lady says that to this day, she still won’t look over in the direction of the door when she’s going to bed. She says that because she’s from a strong Catholic upbringing, she needs to shower more regularly now, “it’s like I need to scrub the areas of my body that he had contact with” she said. She said that her fervent wish was that when her attacker finishes his sentence, he “leaves this country and never returns”.

Judge Eugene O’Kelly said that this was a “shocking case” and that the charge of burglary was aggravated by the fact that it occurred “in the dead of night” in the home of an elderly, vulnerable lady.

He said that she was entitled to feel safe and secure, like any other homeowner. He said that Mr Olan made persistent and determined efforts to get into the house despite the resistance and opposition of the victim’s carer who “bravely tried to keep him out with a timber pole”.

He added that the sexual assault charge was aggravated by the fact that it happened at night-time in the bedroom of an extremely elderly and vulnerable lady, who needed the engagement of a full-time carer, who was present in the house prior to the assault. He said that while the attack did not involve touching or penetration of the victim’s intimate areas, it was aggravated by the fact that she had to suffer the “gross indignity” of having her nightie “pulled up to her neck” and her incontinence pad “violently ripped off her”.

He added that she then had to go through a sex assault medical, by a male doctor “which would have been difficult for her”. He said that the injuries she suffered were “truly shocking” and that although they will heal, the psychological effects will stay with her for the rest of her life. “She thought she was going to be raped,” he said.

For the charge of burglary, he sentenced Olan to eight and a half years, with the final year suspended; six years for the sexual assault and three years and nine months for assaulting a police officer in the line of duty. The sentences will be served concurrently and Judge O’Kelly made it a condition of the year suspension that as soon as he is released, he must leave Ireland and not come back for a period of five years.

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