A NIGERIAN man who was sentenced to two years for sexually assaulting a woman who fell asleep beside him on a Nitelink bus has had his sentence more than doubled after a successful appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Court of Criminal Appeal today found that the sentence of two years with one year suspended imposed on Michael Igbosonu (25) by Judge Patricia Ryan in March 2012 for a “predatory” sexual assault was unduly lenient.
The former accountancy student had denied the offence but was unanimously found guilty by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury following a four-day trial. He was released from prison on October 29th last year.
The court heard that in January 2009 the victim had sat beside Igbosonu on a Nitelink bus after a night out in Dublin city-centre.
Mindful that she was in work the following afternoon and that the bus journey was to take over an hour, the victim said she fell asleep only to awake to find Igbosonu moving his two fingers inside her vagina.
She gave evidence that the belt and the zip on her shorts had been opened and her tights and underwear had been moved. The victim complained of the assault, while nine witnesses gave evidence as to the victim’s state of undress and her demeanour after the assault.
The court heard that Igbosonu, a father-of-one with a last address in Balbriggan in North County Dublin, resisted arrest and gave a false name to gardai as there was a bench warrant out for his arrest for failing to appear in court on another matter.
Counsel for the DPP, Ms Cathleen Noctor BL, told the court that the offence was of a predatory nature and was the most physically intrusive type of sexual assault that could be heard going to the Central Criminal Court.
She said that Judge Ryan gave excessive weight to the mitigating factors in the case while failing to have due regard to the impact of the offence on the victim and the fact that Igbosonu had 11 previous convictions.
Mr Pieter Le Vert BL, for Igbosonu, told the court that his client had no previous convictions of a sexual nature and at the time of the offence was a young man with a record of employment and schooling.
He said the court could be happy that Igbosonu would not appear before them again, as he had paid the penalty for what he did and was trying to rebuild his life as best he could.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell said the court noted the offence was a “predatory” and “sordid” attack which was a “frightening, traumatic and humiliating experience” for the victim.
He said the victim has since suffered with nightmares and experiences difficulties in social situations, while the process of the trial inflicted further trauma.
Mr Justice O’Donnell said that while Igbosonu had a record of employment, he had a “lamentable” record of previous offences, including convictions for assault and crimes of dishonesty.
He said the court found the offence was on the mid-to-upper range of seriousness and would accordingly substitute the sentence imposed with one of five years with two years suspended for a period of three years.
Mr Justice O’Donnell said the court would accede to an application by Mr Levert to defer the imposition of the sentence for four weeks, after counsel submitted it would have a “devastating effect” on Igbosuno and other people.
Igbosonu was admitted to bail on his own bond of €100 and was ordered to surrender himself to Mountjoy prison on the morning of October 21st.