Tuesday 20 August 2019

'Creepy' driving instructor (74) pleads guilty to sexually assaulting young woman during lesson stop-off

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Gordon Deegan

A "creepy" 74-year-old driving instructor today pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman during a stop-off on a driving lesson.

At Killaloe District Court today, Insp Tom Kennedy said that Donal Ryan of St Conlon’s Rd, Nenagh, Co Tipperary followed his student into her bedroom where he lay down and patted the woman’s bed signalling her to join him.

Insp Kennedy said that the student nurse "froze" and was "shocked" and "very startled" at Donal Ryan’s actions in a stop-off during their 11th driving lesson together on a November afternoon last year.

The woman had stopped off at her family home to collect a couple of items during the driving lesson with Mr Ryan, only for the pensioner to follow her into her home uninvited.

Insp Kennedy said: "Mr Ryan was lying down on one side of her bed and patting the other side with his right hand and she took that as an invitation to come onto the bed."

Insp Kennedy said that the woman left her bedroom and on her way downstairs, Mr Ryan came from behind the woman and wrapped his arms around her.

The woman managed to wriggle free only for Mr Ryan to grab her from behind again when she got downstairs.

Insp Kennedy said that Mr Ryan told her; "you’re so gorgeous, you’re so gorgeous" and that she made him excited.

Insp Kennedy said that the woman found Mr Ryan "very creepy" in what he said and as Mr Ryan was saying this, Mr Ryan grabbed the woman’s breasts with his hands and squeezed them both from outside her clothing.

Insp Kennedy said that the woman felt "violated" and that what had occurred was a "horrible experience".

In the case, Mr Ryan has pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of the Co Tipperary woman on November 15th last.

Judge Patrick Durcan described the case as "extremely serious" and adjourned sentencing into Ennis District Court tomorrow.

In the incident at her home, Insp Kennedy said that the woman was feeling inner panic, but was showing outer calm.

Insp Kennedy said that later when the woman met her boyfriend, she burst into tears and subsequently made a complaint to Gardai.

Insp Kennedy said that the incident followed Mr Ryan making a number of inappropriate comments to the woman in previous driving lessons.

Insp Kennedy added that on the 7th lesson, Mr Ryan said that the woman had lovely legs and that he was feeling 21 again.

Insp Kennedy said that on her 9th lesson, the woman had to take off boots as they weren’t suitable for driving and when putting back on the boots at the end of the lesson, Mr Ryan told her that the neighbours might think that she was getting re-dressed.

On the 10th lesson, the woman was wearing ripped jeans and the man told her that she had "lovely knees".

Solicitor for Mr Ryan, Jennifer Donovan said that her client can’t apologise enough to the woman.

She said that Mr Ryan worked as a driving instructor for 22 years in Nenagh without any incident of this nature and is now retired and drawing the state pension.

She said: "He has no previous convictions for any type of offence and absolutely unreservedly apologises to the woman."

Ms Donovan said that Mr Ryan only appreciated the effect of his actions on the woman when he read the woman’s statements.

She said: "He is a very tactile person by nature."

Ms Donovan said that her client had pleaded guilty and co-operated fully with the Gardai

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