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Ex-rugby player avoids jail for violent attack on transgender escort after dispute over cash

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Punch: Ben O’Reilly leaving court yesterday. Photo: Collins

Punch: Ben O’Reilly leaving court yesterday. Photo: Collins

Punch: Ben O’Reilly leaving court yesterday. Photo: Collins

A former youth rugby player (21) who assaulted a transgender escort has received a fully suspended sentence.

Ben O'Reilly, formerly of The Old Mill, Ratoath, Co Meath, now residing at Village Green, Kilucan, Co Westmeath, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting Fernanda de Freitas, causing her harm and robbing her of cash and her iPhone at her home on May 20, 2017.

Last December, a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court convicted O'Reilly of assaulting Ms de Freitas and acquitted him of the robbery charge.

Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Elma Sheahan said that after a dispute regarding the payment for the services of an escort, O'Reilly punched the victim and injured her further by placing his hands around her neck.

She said O'Reilly had lost the support of his mother, brothers and friends and was suspended from his rugby club.

She said further mitigating factors included his previous good character, his youth and his acceptance of the verdict.

She noted that if a term of imprisonment was imposed, O'Reilly would lose his role with the British Armed Forces.

She sentenced him to two years' imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in full on condition he pay €10,000 compensation to Ms de Freitas.

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