Wednesday 18 October 2017

Support group hits out as hotel rapist is jailed for five years

Brian Shaughnessy was convicted of raping a young woman at a hotel
Brian Shaughnessy was convicted of raping a young woman at a hotel
Judge Garrett Sheehan: sentencing

Fiona Ferguson, Jessica Magee and Mark O'Regan

A LEADING sex abuse support group has said a judge who handed down a five-year jail sentence to a hotelier who raped an employee following a staff party should have placed greater emphasis on the victim's impact statement.

The former hotel owner has been jailed for five years for the rape of an employee following a staff party.

Brian Shaughnessy (47) raped the young woman in the presidential suite of the Loughrea Hotel and Spa in Co Galway after asking her earlier in the night if he could confide in her and buying her drinks. He was the owner of the hotel at the time.

Shaughnessy, with an address at Ballywinna, Craughwell, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape of the woman at the hotel on July 26, 2010, but was convicted by a jury following a trial in March of this year.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan suspended the final year of the six-year sentence on condition that Shaughnessy be of good behaviour and keep the peace for one year post-release.

"The sentence was in the mid to low range. The judge said the adverse publicity would be punishment enough, but I don't know about that.

"In reality, it looks like he's going to serve two years and nine months (after remission)," Dublin Rape Crisis Centre director Ellen O'Malley Dunlop told the Irish Independent.

"The judge seemed to put a lot of emphasis on the mitigating factors. This man never admitted to the crime and the victim was brought through the courts system, which is a very harrowing system for anybody to go through, particularly a vulnerable witness.

"This man has been found guilty of raping a young girl and absolutely devastating her life for those years she had to wait for the case to get to court. I would like to see more weight given to the victim-impact statement.

"What the victim said just indicates how important this was for her, and she described how she was able to hand back the guilt, blame and responsibility to its rightful owner."

Mr Justice Sheehan said he took into account the seriousness of the offence and the effect it had had on the young victim and on her education, particularly the depression she had suffered as a result of the rape.

However, he also said he accepted the various character references that had been submitted on behalf of the accused, which indicated that his actions had been out of character.

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The judge also pointed out that the adverse publicity attaching to the case was "punitive" for the defendant.

During the trial, the young woman outlined the effect of the rape on her life and family.

She told the court: "From the moment I left the room, I was changed. Physically, mentally and emotionally I was raped," she said.

She said she had been worried about getting pregnant and contracting sexually transmitted diseases. She had to wait a week to get the all-clear and said she should not have been going through that at her age.

Mr Justice Sheehan ordered Shaughnessy be placed on the sex offenders' register.

Anyone affected by sexual violence of any kind should contact the freephone number 1800-778888, which is available nationwide.

Irish Independent

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