independent

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Suspended sentence for sex assault while on stag night

VICTIM WAS PART OF HEN PARTY AT AVON RI COMPLEX

Published 02/01/2013|09:35

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A MAN who sexually assaulted a young woman as she lay sleeping received a two and a half year suspended sentence at Wicklow Circuit Court recently.

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Jason Cole (30), Hillview, Balrothery, Balbriggan pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman at Avon Ri, Blessington in June 2011.

Detective Garda Patrick Twomey said the injured party was staying at the Avon Ri complex having travelled there for a hen party.

She was out with friends and they later made their way back to the house they were sharing.

The hen party had also met up with two stag parties who were also staying in the complex and some members of the stag party went on to socialise in the house being rented by the hen party.

The victim went to bed and got into bed alone with the door closed.

She hadn't taken off her tracksuit and awoke to feel someone performing oral sex on her.

She said she hit the person five or six times on the face and head and asked him what he was doing.

The woman said her back tracksuit and underwear were on the floor saying she had been wearing them when she went to bed.

She told her friends what had happened and the gardai were called.

Cole was interviewed and admitted to digitally penetrating the woman and performing oral sex.

He said he had initiated all the acts and said admitted he had ' taken advantage of an intoxicated girl when she was asleep in her own bedroom' saying 'she was drunk and I was drunk. At the time you don't think of these things'.

When asked if the woman was asleep when he performed oral sex Cole said to gardai 'yes she was looking back on it'.

Cole said the incident was ' out of character' for him and admitted drinking up to 21 drinks on the night.

In a victim impact report which was read into the court the woman said it was difficult to express how she has been affected by the assault.

She said reporting the crime and the subsequent examination and questioning had been exceptionally difficult and had been 'one of the most intrusive and traumatic things ever'.

She said she is still receiving counselling at a local Rape Crisis Centre.

The woman outlined that her work involves an element of travel abroad and since the attack she has struggled to do this and needs to be accompanied by a family member.

'I am so afraid of anyone coming into my room. I am always worried about security and I feel I don't have the confidence to travel alone.

'If I am out without my partner I feel nervous and I find staying in my house also very hard. I need to double check all the windows and doors. 'I feel like a child afraid of the dark.' The woman who is due to be married soon said she has to 'push myself to attend my own wedding celebrations and our marriage preparations have been overshadowed by this.

'We (as a couple) have been tested by this,' she said.

' This is such a difficult subject and it's so personal. At times I have found it hard to get out of the deepest darkest moments.'

She went on to say that she appreciated Cole's guilty plea which spared her the trauma of giving evidence but said 'I don't feel safe in my world and that's not right. I don't know when or if I'll feel safe again.

' The court case is coming to an end but it's not the end of it for me and I don't know if it ever will be.'

Acting for Cole Damien Sheridan BL said Cole works as a warehouse operative and plays soccer and gaelic.

He said Cole had a partner at the time of the assault but the relationship is 'currently on hold and it could well be more than that' saying the assault had 'proven more than a strain'.

Mr. Sheridan said Cole was 'disgusted' with himself when he realised what he did.

Judge Michael O'Shea said ' this simply shouldn't have occurred' adding the woman had been entitled ' to the privacy of her own bedroom and not to have a sexual assault perpetrated on her.

'She was entitled to feel safe in her bedroom and on seeing her there he exploited the situation and took unfair advantage of her.'

Judge O'Shea said the assault had been 'disgusting' and continues to have ongoing effects on the woman.

He sentenced Cole to two and a half years imprisonment which he suspended for three years and directed that Cole be placed on the sex offenders register for the relevant period.

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