A garda sergeant who sexually assaulted a young woman in her bed after a night out with his colleagues has been sentenced to five-months imprisonment.
Cathal Middleton (42), who had been stationed in south Dublin, denied the charge but was convicted following a trial before Dublin District Court last year.
The sexual assault occurred on March 2, 2020, at an address in Lucan and he was suspended after being charged.
The garda sergeant will now be placed on the sex offender's registry for a period of at least seven years with his defence barrister saying he "in all likelihood will lose his job".
He was freed immediately after lodging an appeal and walked from Blanchardstown courthouse hand-in-hand with his wife.
Today the court heard that he was on a night out with colleagues before returning to a house in Lucan where he stayed on the couch.
He later went up to the bedroom of the victim, who was not on the night out, and sexually assaulted her.
Reading her victim impact statement to the court the young woman wiped away tears as she recounted the incident and the damage it had done.
She questioned if the defendant ever thought about what he had done, if he had any remorse and if it haunted him the way it haunts her, adding: "It brought me to a dark place in my life,"
She said that the sexual assault impacted every aspect of her life including her confidence, self worth, relationships and career.
"For so long I struggled and fought with myself as to why I didn't scream louder that morning, but it's hard to scream when you are frozen in fear. I understand that now
"I was in my home in my room, in my bed, sober, asleep. None of that should matter but somehow it still does.
"Over the past two years and 10 months I have battled with what you did and struggled daily to keep going," she said.
Sgt Middleton kept his head bowed as the victim addressed the court, holding a child's stuffed toy in his hand.
The young woman continued: "You climbed into my bed that morning as if you knew me, as if you had a right to be there.
"You pressed your body against mine and told me it was going to be okay.
"Have you ever thought about the fear I felt, then never knowing how long you were in my bedroom before I woke, what you did while I was sleeping.
"So many questions race through my mind that I'll never get the answers to. Awaking to you undressed in my bed, telling me it was going to be okay.
"How was it ever going to be okay. It wasn't meant to be me but it was me."
The court was told that Sgt Cathal Middleton is married with a four-year-old girl and that his wife and parents were in court to support him.
He joined the gardaí in 2002 and was promoted to sergeant in 2018.
His defence barrister said he was suspended as a result of the incident and "in all likelihood will lose his job".
The court was told that Sgt Middleton had not come before the court's previously and pleading for leniency said he was of previous good character.
Delivering his sentence, Judge David McHugh said he had to consider the victim including the suffering and serious psychological damage suffered.
The breach of trust involved, he said, was significant while taking into account the "other ancillary matters" that may arise for the defendant.
The judge said he was satisfied justice of the case could be met by a term of five months imprisonment.
Cathal Middleton looked at his family members and shook his head after the sentence was handed down.
The prosecution said that as a matter of law he will be subject to the sex offender registry for a period of seven years.
After the case was finalised, the accused immediately lodged an appeal and was released on bail after entering into a bond of €300.
He walked from the court hand-in-hand with his wife.
In a statement Garda Headquarters said: "An Garda Síochána does not comment on matters before the courts. An Garda Síochána does not comment on internal disciplinary matters related to named individuals.
"An Garda Síochána can confirm that a male Garda serving in the Dublin Region was suspended from duty in June 2020 in connection with an investigation into an alleged sexual assault."