Man (51) jailed after vicious sex attack on his neighbour
A Limerick man who called gardaí and told them he had just tried to kill his 66-year-old neighbour has been jailed for attacking and sexually assaulting the woman.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey said the 51-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, carried out an unprovoked, brutal and shocking attack on the woman.
The man had called to the woman's home just after nine that evening for "no particular reason". The separated mother of three lived alone in her home in Co Cork.
He asked the woman if she would share the wine she was drinking with him. He then "suddenly switched temper" and "clattered her", the prosecution told the court.
He put a cushion over her face, pulled down her pyjamas bottoms and sexually assaulted her.
A local detective inspector told the prosecution that gardaí were first alerted to the attack when the accused made a 999 call to his local garda station and said, "I tried to kill her by putting a cushion over her head."
The victim later told gardaí she had no recollection of what happened after the man punched her in the eye and put a cushion over her face.
A medical examination found she had bruises on her jaw, neck, knee and thigh. The man initially denied the charges.
He pleaded guilty on the morning of his trial at the Central Criminal Court last April to assault causing harm but pleaded not guilty to raping the woman in her home on November 4, 2015.
Mr Justice Coffey reduced a headline sentence of six years to four-and-a-half years. He backdated the sentence to last April, when the man went into custody.
The judge noted the traumatic effect of the attack on the woman, saying she went from being a people person to no longer feeling safe in her own home. The prosecution read the woman's victim-impact report in which she stated her life has not been the same since the sexual assault.
"I have not walked up the road since it happened, before I would have walked around freely. I used to be so involved in my locality. I enjoyed meeting people," the woman said.
She now gets a taxi everywhere and asks the driver to wait outside the shops for her.
"The chain is always on the door. It has stopped me being sociable. I used to be a people person. I lock every door in the house, including my own bedroom door," the woman said.
She has to take medication to help her relax and she asked both her ex-husband and her adult children to phone in advance if they are calling over to her.
"I still cry when I think of it, especially since it happened in my own home," the woman said, before she thanked the gardaí and the staff who treated her in hospital.
The detective inspector said the man has four previous convictions for a serious assault, assault and theft.
The defence told Mr Justice Coffey that his client wished to offer an unreserved apology for the injury he caused the victim.