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'Worst nightmare' Woman who was sexually assaulted on Cork street 'disgusted' at people who recorded attack

Bagrat Kudzievi, who was in Ireland illegally, received a seven-year prison sentence, with the final year suspended

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Sexual assault victim Rachel McElroy pictured at Cork Criminal court. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Sexual assault victim Rachel McElroy pictured at Cork Criminal court. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Sexual assault victim Rachel McElroy pictured at Cork Criminal court. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

A YOUNG woman who was sexually assaulted in Cork city said she was "disgusted" at people who recorded the degrading assault and posted it on social media rather than rushing to her aid.

Rachel McElroy (20) waived her anonymity to speak of her relief as her attacker, a Georgian martial arts expert who was in Ireland illegally, was jailed for seven years for the attacks.

Bagrat Kudzievi (28) of Albert Road, Cork city, was convicted last October before the Central Criminal Court of two counts of sexual assault on Ms McElroy at locations in Cork city centre on the night of October 19, 2019.

Kudzievi had denied the charges and insisted what happened that night was consensual.

However, Ms Justice Tara Burns described the attacks as "every young woman's worst nightmare”.

She said Kudzievi had subjected the young college student to "a degrading assault" after taking advantage of her intoxicated state.

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Sexual assault victim Rachel McElroy outside Cork Criminal court after her attacker received a seven-year sentence, with the final year suspended. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Sexual assault victim Rachel McElroy outside Cork Criminal court after her attacker received a seven-year sentence, with the final year suspended. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Sexual assault victim Rachel McElroy outside Cork Criminal court after her attacker received a seven-year sentence, with the final year suspended. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Ms Justice Burns jailed Kudzievi to seven years, agreeing to suspend the final year of the sentence given that he is a foreign national and has no family in Ireland.

A condition of the suspended final year of the sentence is that he agrees to immediately leave Ireland on release from prison.

Kudzievi, in a brief statement to the court via an interpreter, said: "If I am in prison for seven years I will commit suicide.”

Speaking outside the court in Cork, Ms McElroy said she felt "hatred" towards Kudzievi for what he had done to her.

"But I have won here – I am walking out of here today and he is not," she said.

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"I am very happy with the result because I thought he would get a lesser sentence because he has no other convictions.

"I have no sympathy for him. I have nothing there for him – just hatred really. Not even hatred really. I am very disgusted at what people like that do."

Ms McElroy spoke of her upset that people who spotted a young woman in a vulnerable position being sexually assaulted would opt to record it on a phone rather than offering to help her.

"The girls that recorded me, I found it very disrespectful,” she said. “It was a very disrespectful thing to do. They could have helped. They could have called the gardaí. But they would rather take a video and put it all over social media.

"It was very disrespectful. What if that was their daughter? I was really disgusted at that. I didn't find out until the last minute. When I found out, I felt it was such a disrespectful thing to do.

"They could have helped, they could have pulled us apart. But they would rather take a video and put it all over social media. If that was their daughter they would have been so angry."

Ms McElroy said the aftermath of the attack was very difficult for her.

"I did take a heavy turn at one stage. I did turn to drinking a lot. But I have my family and my friends helping me. The gardaí, especially Detective Garda Donal Daly, were fantastic throughout the two years of this. I couldn't have asked for better people to be out there to help me.

"By God I will [walk tall after this]. I didn't expect to get a 12-out-of-12 jury vote – it is relief that I was believed more than anything. He could have got one year, two years or anything.

"I wouldn't have cared – it is just that I was believed."

Ms McElroy said she spoke out to help others and to aid her own healing process.

"I want to reach out to other girls and boys, anyone out there, that it is OK to speak up about stuff like this.

"It is never OK to hold it in. It impacts so much on your life. I feel like talking about it, even to strangers. It just helps me a lot. It has lifted a lot of weight from my shoulders.

"I find it very healing speaking out and trying to help other victims like me.

"I am overwhelmed because I have people to look out for me. The amount of help I got from speaking out has been just fantastic."

Ms McElroy still has no recollection of the sexual assaults.

"It was my first college night out with my friends. We went out to enjoy ourselves. It is a night that I have no memory of, no recollection of – only being in the Garda station afterwards getting my mouth swabbed.

"In my head I can't understand how people can have thoughts like that. To take something from someone's life that they will never get back. It is a horrible thing to do and a horrible experience to go through."

Ms Justice Burns outlined how the victim had gone to a nightclub with some college friends for a night out on October 19, 2019. She had a very small quantity of alcohol.

Ms McElroy was caught on CCTV footage in a very emotional state.

Kudzievi came over to her in the club and, within 10 minutes, had brought her outside the club onto the street and away from her friends.

The Georgian walked Ms McElroy to an alcove where he sexually assaulted her.

Det Garda Donal Daly said Kudzievi became aware that some people were recording the pair on mobile phones and shouting at them.

He then picked up the young woman and carried her up the street, across a bridge and to a pavement.

Kudzievi was discovered sexually assaulting her on the ground there by security staff from the nightclub who became concerned about Ms McElroy's welfare and were searching for her.

Gardaí were called and Kudzievi was arrested.

When gardaí searched his home they discovered he had come to Ireland illegally in 2018 by pretending to be Polish.

The prison sentence was backdated to when Kudzievi was first taken into custody.

Helplines: If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, click here for more information

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