Saturday 1 October 2016

Sex offender jailed after beating his then girlfriend and tying her up 'so she couldn't run away'

Fiona Ferguson

Published 16/12/2015 | 17:19

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A sex offender who beat his then girlfriend and tied her her up so she couldn't run away while he talked to her has been jailed for three and a half years.

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Michael O'Brien (47), who served a nine year sentence for rape, tied the terrified woman up during the assault and then drove them around in her car so he could talk to her.

O'Brien pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm and false imprisonment at his home on Bloomfield Avenue, Dublin 8 on November 16, 2014.

O'Brien has 14 previous convictions for offences including rape, possession of drugs, begging and failing to notify gardai of a change of his details under the Sex Offenders Act.

Judge Melanie Greally said there were “particularly degrading circumstances” associated with this offence and noted the victim impact statement detailed adverse effects on the victim, her mental health and the way she lives her life.

She took into account O'Brien's guilty plea, early admissions and his remorse. She imposed concurrent sentences totalling three and a half years.

A victim impact statement completed by the 40-year-old woman was handed into court along with a medical report and photographs of her injuries. The victim had indicated that she did not wish to give evidence in person.

Garda Colleen Doherty told Marie Torrens BL, prosecuting, that O'Brien and the woman had been seeing each other for about four months and that evening she drove to his apartment block where she was going to stay over.

She went to a pub where they had arranged to meet after he finished work. They spent the evening in the pub and spoke about a friend who had recently died before returning to the flat.

O'Brien could not find his keys and became annoyed. They decided to sleep in the car and lay down on the back seat. The woman was later awoken by O'Brien punching her violently and she screamed for help but there was no one around.

The next thing she remembered was being in the front seat, without knowing how she got there, being punched by O'Brien. He put his hands around her throat to stop her screaming.

O'Brien tied her up using a lace from one of her shoes. He told her he didn't want her to run away because he wanted to talk to her. He drove the car out of the city and they eventually ended up in Kildare. The woman pleaded with O'Brien to untie her.

She looked at herself in the mirror while in the car and was horrified by the bruising and swelling.

O'Brien drove down a quiet road and the woman was able to get out to remove her soiled clothes. She changed into fresh clothes she had in the car but was unable to clean herself fully.

He drove them back to a friend's house where the distressed woman was able to shower.

O'Brien told his friend: “I done this, I am an animal, I deserve anything I get.”

Gardai were alerted and O'Brien was arrested at his home. He made admissions to gardai about what he had done. He said the woman was “a nice girl who did not deserve this”.

Gda Doherty agreed with Dominic McGinn SC, defending, that O'Brien had told gardai he had tied her up to stop her running away after the violence while he explained things to her.

She agreed his explanation was that he had been under pressure at work, a friend had recently died and he was not sleeping. He also indicated he had drunk too much.

Mr McGinn said O'Brien wished the woman to know what had happened was not her fault and that he recognised what he did was inexcusable. He said he accepted he was fully to blame and had displayed remorse.

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