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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Man gets eight months in jail for slapping woman on bum ‘for the thrill of it’

Nicola Donnelly

Published 21/01/2013 | 15:14

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Sean Cullen (23) of Ashton Avenue, Ashton Brock in Swords

A MAN who followed a woman and slapped her on her bottom "to get a thrill" and because "she had a nice bum" has been sentenced to eight months in jail.

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Sean Cullen (23) followed the woman who was out walking on a summer's evening last July and when he caught up with her, he slapped her bottom.



He told gardai he was under the influence of drugs at the time and is deeply apologetic.



Cullen, of Ashton Avenue, Ashton Brock in Swords, pleaded guilty at Balbriggan District Court to sexual assault on July 26, 2011 at Drynam Road in Swords.



Garda Colum Donohoe gave evidence that the 27-year-old woman was out walking between 9pm and 9.30pm when she became aware of a male following her. She described him as putting his head down each time she turned around.



“She began to walk faster and he sped up and when she slowed down, he slowed down,” said Gda Donohoe.



“She rang her boyfriend and while she was on the phone, the defendant came up behind her and slapped her on the bum. He then ran onto the road. The woman's boyfriend arrived quickly and confronted the man and called gardai,” added Gda Donohoe.



Cullen was arrested by gardai on December 12, 2011 and told gardai he “slapped her on the ass to get a thrill” and “she had a nice bum”.



Gda Donohoe told the court that Cullen, who has one previous conviction for theft, had spent ten to 15 minutes following the woman, who was in a terrified state.



Gda Donohoe agreed with defence solicitor Fiona Darcy that Cullen was co-operative and apologetic when he was arrested.



Cullen, who is a currently unemployed window cleaner following an accident, was under the influence of drugs at the time which, said Ms Darcy, was the reason he committed the offence.



“He says it won't happen again,” said Ms Darcy. “He has learnt his lesson to stay away from drugs and he is worried sick as he did not think of the repercussions. He was so out of it and is deeply ashamed and apologetic.”



A letter of apology was handed into the court but Judge Dermot Dempsey remarked that Cullen “seems to have made very little effort as the letter is dated January 2013”.



Judge Dempsey said he could not see his way around a custodial sentence despite Ms Darcy asking for community service for Cullen, as it was a “terrifying ordeal for the young lady”.



He imposed an eight-month prison sentence but released him on his own recognisance of €400 and independent surety of €200 after Cullen immediately lodged an appeal to the sentencing.



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