Sunday 26 March 2017

'It's despicable I had to give up my anonymity to get justice' - woman raped in her sleep by ex-boyfriend

Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill outside court. Photo: Courtpix
Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill outside court. Photo: Courtpix

Robin Schiller

A rape victim has described the need to lift her right to anonymity as "despicable", saying more must be done to protect victims.

Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill (28), the woman at the centre of a 'sleep rape' case, said that she was surprised her attacker received a 15-month sentence following an appeal.

Magnus Meyer Hustveit (26) was re-sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment after the Court of Appeal found the original sentence 'unduly lenient'.

He was previously handed down a seven-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to one count of rape and one count of sexual assault committed against his then-girlfriend between 2011 and 2012.

Much of the offending behaviour occurred without Ms Ní Dhomhnaill's knowledge and all of the acts were only known because of detailed admissions made by Hustveit in an email he sent to the victim, following her request to find out what had happened to her.

Ms Ní Dhomhnaill said the need to lift her right to anonymity felt like "a bargaining tool" to secure justice.

"I am obviously unhappy it took going public and took a lot of people getting angry for that to actually happen.

"It's despicable. I had to waive my right to anonymity, and it felt like I needed to do it to secure justice, like it was a bargaining tool.

"There are people who have a job to do, to ensure that victims like myself are protected," she said.

"It is difficult enough going through the process of telling the gardaí about what happened, being prodded and continuously asked if what happened was really that bad.

"For then to have to bring it to light in the public domain in order to make sure there is justice, it is just despicable," Ms Ní Dhomhnaill added.

The brave victim also said that the two rulings - the original sentence and the imprisonment on appeal - had to be placed into two categories.

"I was surprised that he received 15 months, in terms of what he originally was given.

"But by itself, a 15-month sentence, I wouldn't be happy with it. It doesn't equate to what I have been through.

"I know that there are certain guidelines that the judiciary must follow, so maybe that is the most that he could have been given. I wasn't expecting him to receive four or five years," she added.

Ms Ní Dhomhnaill also said that the last year had been "difficult" but she was able to deal with it thanks to friends and family.

"You will always have moments where you question it. Undeniably, the judge and the court's decision to suspend the original sentence in its entirety made it feel like it wasn't such a big deal. That you weren't really raped. Surely there can't be that much damage if someone gets away with it," she added.

Irish Independent

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