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complete violation Dublin model tells of disgust after witnessing man commit sex act at petrol station

"He had obviously seen me coming or saw a woman – it could have been any woman – leave on their own and had probably driven around to be in the prime position"

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Thalia Heffernan. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Thalia Heffernan. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Thalia Heffernan. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Dublin model Thalia Heffernan has spoken of her revulsion after witnessing a man committing a lewd sexual act while she stopped at a petrol station forecourt over the Christmas break.

Speaking on Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ One last night, which featured a discussion on women’s experiences of being afraid to go out or go about their business out of fear of being attacked, she said she was shocked and sickened by the incident.

Ms Heffernan (26) said she had stopped at a petrol station off the M1 motorway around 6:30pm one evening during Christmas week and when she returned to her car she noticed the interior light of the car beside her go on.

When she looked over she saw a man engaging in a lewd sexual act and she immediately reversed out of the petrol station and rang gardai.

Her first thought was concern that two little girls she saw enter the shop with their father might have witnessed the sickening act but she hoped that her car had blocked their view.

"As I reversed, his light went out and I thought he’d done this before. It was so confident in how he had done it,” she said.

She said she hadn’t seen him when she went into the shop but he was there when she returned.

"He had obviously seen me coming or saw a woman – it could have been any woman – leave on their own and had probably driven around to be in the prime position,” she said.

She described the incident as “a complete violation,” even though she wasn’t physically harmed.

But it was a violation all the same, she added.

"What will be done to stop this?,” she said.

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She made an official complaint to gardaí about the incident but hasn’t heard from them since.

She said she also contacted the petrol station to see if they had captured the incident on CCTV but by then it was Christmas Day and she let the matter drop.

But she said that after hearing of a man committing the same lewd act during a Zoom vigil for murdered school teacher Ashling Murphy, she couldn’t remain silent.

She said the shocking experience is “another realisation that we’re not safe,” she told Claire Byrne.

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