'ashamed' | 

Man who sexually assaulted his sister while 'significantly intoxicated' jailed

The court heard how the man smoked a joint before sexually assaulting his sister

The Criminal Courts of Justice

Isabel Hayes & Fiona Ferguson

A man who sexually assaulted his sister while he was “significantly intoxicated” has been given a four-and-a-half year sentence with the final year suspended.

The 47-year-old Limerick man, who can't be named to protect the identity of the complainant, called his sister by another woman's name before telling her, “I'm going to have sex with you” and dragging her to the bedroom of his homeless accommodation.

He hit her and pulled down his trousers as she yelled at him to stop, telling him: “I'm your sister”, the Central Criminal Court heard. The attack ended when two neighbours heard the screams and made their way into the man's apartment.

The man pleaded guilty to one count of sexually assaulting his sister at an apartment in Limerick on October 26, 2019. The court heard that he grabbed his sister's breasts in the course of the attack.

He has three previous convictions and has been in custody for two years on this and other matters.

A local garda told the man's sentence hearing in November that the brother and sister were watching a movie in his accommodation on the evening in question. The man was drinking heavily and smoking a joint, the court heard.

The man suddenly called out the name of a woman with whom he had had a previous relationship before attacking his sister, the court heard. When the neighbours stopped the attack, he told them: “I know it's wrong. I smoked a joint, my head wasn't [acting] right.”

The court heard the man's sister did not wish to make a victim impact statement. She was not in court for the proceedings.

Dean Kelly SC, defending, said his client had limited intellectual ability and left school at primary level. Despite this, he kept down steady jobs in the farming and building trades for years before he lost his job.

His life then “spiralled”, his alcohol addiction worsened and he became homeless, the court heard. He has limited sexual experience.

Mr Kelly said the man's sister also had issues with alcohol and was living in nearby homeless accommodation. He submitted his client was “significantly intoxicated” at the time and was “at a loss” to explain his behaviour.

“He can't explain why he did it. He knows its wrong and he's ashamed,” Mr Kelly said.

Sentencing the man today, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said there were a number of concerning features of the attack, including its unexpected and sudden nature, the degree of physical force and the fact his sister was intoxicated and vulnerable.

He said the manner in which the assault was carried out was humiliating and degrading for the victim, and all the more so because it was her brother carrying it out.

The judge noted the man’s guilty plea, his personal and social problems and his strong work record prior to losing his job due to his alcoholism. He said the man would need multi-agency support to address his issues. He is at a moderate risk of reoffending.

Mr Justice McDermott imposed a sentence of four-and-a-half years with the final year suspended for two years. He said the part suspension was to ensure some stability be brought back into the man’s life with the necessary supports.

The conditions include that the man attend any rehabilitation program considered to be appropriate to his needs to address his addiction and the nature of his offending. The judge ordered that the man abstain from alcohol and illicit drugs.

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