He is the latest serial sex attacker to be released while plans to introduce electronic tags for dangerous offenders have yet to come into force
He is the latest serial sex attacker to be released while plans to introduce electronic tags for dangerous offenders have yet to come into force.
Last May Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the new Sex Offenders Bill 2021 would allow a judge order a sex offender be tagged on their release to monitor if they are complying with any conditions.
She said she expects “a pilot scheme will be introduced to explore its costs and benefits once the legislation is in place.”
In the meantime Sweeney is back on the streets following a trial in October 2020 when he was given an 18-month sentence for sexually assaulting a the woman while sharing a tent with her and her boyfriend.
She woke at around 3am on October 10, 2018, to find Sweeney had his fingers in her private parts.
In her victim impact statement which read to the court, she said: "Francis Sweeney Ward, you did not have my consent but the truth always trumps lies."
"You have been found guilty, finally, after two years. You won't be a monster that I was frightened I would see somewhere. You were just a person who broke the law and didn't escape the consequences of your actions.
"If I stopped you doing this to any other vulnerable woman, then going through this was worth the pain. I am not a victim now. I am a survivor."
"I lost endless nights of sleep and when I did finally sleep I would wake with night terrors.
"I've lost trust and am overly cautious of people now. I was a victim but not anymore. I might have been addicted to heroin and homeless living in a tent but that still doesn't give anyone the right to lay a hand on you without the person's permission."
Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin made the 18 months consecutive with another sentence being served by the accused, as first reported by The Examiner.
"This young woman was living on the outer rim of the margins of society," he said.
"Francis Sweeney sexually assaulted her at a time when she was a recovering heroin addict. She was a very vulnerable person."
The judge also praised the gardaí involved for their professionalism in the way they pursued the case against Sweeney.
At that hearing it emerged Sweeny was already on the Sex Offenders Register for the older case where he was convicted and sentenced for rape.
At his 2007 rape trial the judge described his attack as a "vicious" and "unprovoked" and said the young victim was remarkable and brave for giving her testimony.
Sweeney (50) from Bohermore, Co Galway, was convicted by a jury after a seven-day trial at the Central Criminal Court.