Friday 20 July 2018

Man who raped and seriously assaulted woman left her with life-changing injuries - court hears

Court hears DPP deemed the assault offence as on the 'exceptional upper level', said case warranted a sentence above 12 and a half years and up to life in prison

The Central Criminal Court
The Central Criminal Court

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Carlow man who raped and seriously assaulted a woman in her 50s has left her with life changing injuries from which she is unlikely to recover, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Anthony Cassidy (34) attacked his victim as she was walking to a shop in the early hours of the morning.

A local garda said extensive CCTV footage, which was shown in court, tracked Cassidy's movements to and from where he dumped his unconscious victim on the outskirts of the town.

She said there was no footage of the incident, but grainy CCTV imagery showed a male dragging another person to the location where the victim was discovered 12 hours later. The court heard the victim has no memory of the attack.

Cassidy, a father-of-one with an address at Tinryland, Carlow, pleaded guilty to rape and assault causing serious harm of the woman on June 25, 2017. He has 34 previous convictions, including soliciting for sex in the UK and two assaults in this country.

The garda told Conor O'Doherty BL, prosecuting, that the victim was found unresponsive with her top pulled up to her collar bone and her trousers partially removed.

Subsequent medical reports showed she had been beaten around the head and neck area, leaving her with a serious injuries. The court heard she spent weeks in intensive care in hospital.

The garda said that after his arrest Cassidy initially denied meeting the victim, telling gardaí: “I wouldn't rape a woman, I'd pay for it in a brothel before I'd do that”.

When DNA evidence linking Cassidy to the victim came through, he then admitted hitting the woman about the head with his fist but said he couldn't recall any sexual encounter.

In a Victim Impact Statement read out by her daughter in court, the woman described how she was now completely dependent on her family for assistance.

"I need so much help in all areas of my personal care, (Cassidy) has taken my privacy then and now," she said.

She described the ongoing physical pain, immobility and night terrors following the attack, saying: “Every time I close my eyes my assailant haunts me”.

"Beating me nearly to death was bad, but raping me makes me feel used and dirty," the woman stated.

"He left me there to die, he wasn't sorry, he could have left my body to be found or rang anonymously," she added.

Addressing Cassidy at the end of her statement, the woman said: "Your act of pure evil stole so much for me but after today I am closing the door on this."

The woman's daughter told the court that the first time she heard her mother whispering her name following the attack was "like winning the lotto a thousand times over."

Addressing Cassidy, she said that her mother has been given "a life sentence of feeling dirty, feeling shame, feeling not good enough."

Colman Cody SC, defending, submitted to Mr Justice Peter McCarthy that his client had written a letter of apology in which he "prayed to God" he could go back in time and undo his actions.

Reading from the letter addressed to the victim, Cassidy said he realised "no words can undo the damage that I caused you and your family."

He said he prayed someday the victim could forgive him and that she would make a full recovery.

Mr Coady asked the judge to take into consideration his client's genuine remorse and the fact his early guilty plea had not compounded the victim's ordeal.

The court heard that Director of Public Prosecutions deemed the assault offence as on the "exceptional upper level" of the scale of seriousness and the case warranted a sentence above 12 and a half years and up to life in prison.

Mr Justice McCarthy adjourned sentencing to April 23 next.

Evidence

The garda told Mr Doherty that the victim's daughter didn't find out about what happened until gardaí phoned her the next day.

The owner of a premises outside the town was entering the property, when he saw a shoe on the right side of the kerb. He then saw a leg and realised this was a body. The witness saw that the victim had one leg removed from her trousers and her upper clothes pulled up to her collar bone.

He also noticed bruising and blood on her face and immediately phoned gardaí, who were able to establish her identity from her phone and bank cards at the scene.  The woman was taken to the hospital, where she spent weeks in a high dependency unit.

A specialist neurologist has reported that the woman suffered a "multifocal brain injury" which had led to significant problems.

This doctor concluded it was "very unlikely" the woman would make a full recovery and that she would need lifelong assistance and support.

Forensic experts found Cassidy's DNA on his victim's body and at the location where she was discovered by a home owner the following day.

She told Mr Doherty that the victim's DNA was also found on his underwear and a stain on his jacket cuff.

She said he had been identified as a suspect after she and colleagues viewed CCTV footage from 36 different premises.

She told the court he was interviewed on eight occasions after his arrest.

She said he initially denied meeting the victim, telling gardaí: "I wouldn't rape a woman, I'd pay for it in a brothel before I'd do that."

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