Tuesday 20 February 2018

Man sexually assaulted student and put hair from her head in his wallet during daft.ie room viewing

Dileesh Soman loses appeal against sentence in court today

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A man who went to view a student's room advertised on daft.ie and sexually assaulted her when she let him in, has lost an appeal against sentence.

Indian national Dileesh Soman (33), with an address at Tramway Terrace, Douglas, Cork, had pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting a woman at an address in a different part of Cork City on November 11, 2013.

He was sentenced to four years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended by Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin on February 20, 2015.

Soman lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence today with the Court of Appeal holding that prison was unlikely to be more difficult for him in circumstances where he was well settled in Ireland and had some command of the English language.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice John Edwards said the injured party – a 30-year-old postgraduate student – had advertised a room for rent in her apartment on the website daft.ie.

Mr Justice Edwards said it was her first experience ever of advertising for a person to share her apartment.

She will now only consider female flatmates or else will simply absorb the extra financial burden of living alone, the judge said.

On the date in question she received a text message from Soman, who she met at approximately 7.30 pm and let him in. He was using the alias of 'Aaron' at the time.

The injured party said he showed a complete lack of interest in the apartment and that when shown the bedroom the conversation became strange.

Soman told her that the room had a very bad energy and he asked her to show various parts of her body including her wrists, elbow, belly and knees. She did this out of fear and continually told him she felt uncomfortable about doing so.

Mr Justice Edwards said Soman touched her breasts, opened her jeans and proceeded to sexually assault her.

At times throughout the sexual assault he made various comments to her including 'nothing bad is going on' and 'it's okay, we're not going to have sex here,' the judgment stated.

The injured party shouted at him and he stopped. On the way out, he pulled a hair from her head and put it in his wallet.

She returned to the apartment crying and told a friend what had happened who in turn contacted the gardaí.

Counsel for Soman, Ronan Munro BL, submitted that the judge gave insufficient weight to the contention that prison would be much harder for him as a non-national with medical difficulties arising out of a hip replacement.

Mr Justice Edwards said Soman had been living and working in Ireland for more than six years so Irish society was no longer culturally alien to him.

Moreover, while his English may not be perfect, he did speak the language and it was at a sufficient level for him to function in the workplace.

Soman was undoubteldy entitled to a reasonable discount for mitigation but he was not wholly co-operative, exhibited no remorse and had sought to blame the victim to some extent to suggest that she had consented to some of what he had done.

Mr Justice Edwards said prison was unlikely to be very much harder for Soman in circumstances where he was well settled in Ireland for a number of years and had some command of the language.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, dismissed the appeal.

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