Wednesday 21 November 2018

Rapist laughs as he is given 14-year term for brutal attack on Spanish student

Eoin Berkeley makes a Nazi salute on the street after being spotted by a photographer
Eoin Berkeley makes a Nazi salute on the street after being spotted by a photographer
Berkley faced court in 2016 where he admitted defacing the Central Bank in Dame Street with graffiti.

Declan Brennan

A student who was subjected to 21 hours of imprisonment when she was repeatedly raped genuinely thought she would die, a judge said.

But the man who admitted abducting and raping the Spanish teenager appeared to chuckle as he was sentenced to 14 years in jail yesterday.

Eoin Berkley (25), with an address at Hampton Wood Way, Finglas, North Dublin, admitted raping the 18-year-old girl at the Irish Glass Bottle company site, Pigeon House Road, Ringsend, on three occasions between July 15 and 16, 2017.

During the sentencing hearing at the Central Criminal Court yesterday, a relaxed Berkley appeared to smile and stretch on occasion.

Mr Justice Michael White said Berkley's crimes were premeditated, and the nature of the rapes was particularly degrading.

The judge said Berkley's threats to kill the victim were "blood-curdling".

He noted there were 19 separate incidents of violence or threats of violence.

He imposed concurrent sentences of 14 years for each rape offence and said he was taking into consideration the threats to kill, sexual assaults and false imprisonment.

Mr Justice White backdated the sentence to July 31, 2017, when Berkley went into custody, and imposed a period of three years post-release supervision. He stated he had to take into account Berkley's tragic history and his mental health difficulties and said reports handed into court made grim reading.

The court heard evidence that he was mainly sleeping rough at the time and frequently came to Garda attention for public order situations which raised concerns for his mental health.

A month before the abduction and rapes, a Garda inspector in the Dublin city area directed Berkley's detention under the Mental Health Act. He was seen by a doctor who deemed him fit to be released.

On the date of the abduction, the victim was out in the city centre on a Saturday afternoon when she met Berkley, who told her he lived on the beach and invited her to see it.

The then 18-year-old, described as naive and shy, had come to Ireland two weeks earlier to improve her English and was staying with a host family in Dublin. She agreed to go with Berkley but he brought her to a derelict site near Sandymount where he had pitched tents.

Once inside the tent his mood changed, he pushed her to the ground and grabbed her hands. She told him he was hurting her but he laughed and told her she was stupid and that he had "done this before".

She left the tent but Berkley dragged her back in. He tied her hands up behind her back using a dog leash and told her he had previously killed six people and was going to kill her.

Over the hours that followed, Berkley raped the woman on three separate occasions. On the Sunday he told her he wasn't going to kill her until Monday.

The victim escaped when Berkley took her down to the beach and he fell asleep.

In the meantime the family she was staying with in Dublin and her parents in Spain had raised the alarm when she failed to make contact on Saturday evening.

On escaping, the victim rang her father, telling him she was running from a man and told him: "I've been kidnapped. I'm going to be killed." Her father told the court this was the worst phone-call a father could ever get.

The victim told gardaí that she was terrified and knew if she tried to escape she had to be successful.

The court heard that medical tests found morphine, codeine and cannabis present in her body after the attack. She suffered bruising to her wrist, arms, legs and neck.

Fear

In a victim impact statement read into court by counsel, the woman said that she had to take medication for months after the rape in case of infections. She said she thought she was going to be killed during the attack and she is now afraid to sleep in the dark.

Berkley's 25 previous convictions include unlawful possession of knives and a realistic firearm, and threatening and abusive behaviour.

After the hearing last week Mr Justice White adjourned sentencing to yesterday.

He said that the victim was violated in a horrendous way and that there was a collective sense of shame that somebody visiting Ireland had suffered in such a vile way.

Defence counsel, Michael Bowman SC told the court that his client went into foster care at the age of four as his mother had psychological problems which were compounded by alcohol. At the age of 14 his foster care situation broke down because of his own behavioural difficulties and he was institutionalised at Ballydowd, a facility for "unruly youths".

Counsel said that after leaving Ballydowd he had lived in flux, mostly in homelessness.

Two days after Berkley's detention under the Mental Health Act his older brother rang a Garda station and said Berkley needed to be detained again under the act. Gardaí told him there was no basis for his detention and advised that he seek medical care.

While he was in custody Berkley used his own blood to write the words "I'm so sorry" on the walls of a prison cell.

Mr Justice White said there was an element of premeditation and that he lied to his victim when he invited to take her to a beach and instead brought her to the derelict site.

He said the victim came from a protected family from a generally crime-free area in Spain where she was able to roam freely. He said she was innocent and naive.

The victim told gardaí that Berkley was charming and as she had never seen a beach in Ireland she accepted his invitation.

Mr Justice White said the first rape was particularly degrading and involved elements of extreme violence, threats to kill and false imprisonment. Berkley told her if she shouted it would motivate him more and if she ran he'd hit her on the head with a rock.

Danger

The judge said that the victim was so terrorised that she was effectively a prisoner for 21 hours. Throughout the attack she showed compassion for others, he said, noting one reason she didn't call for help was she was afraid she would put strangers into danger.

Mr Justice White said the second and third rapes were accompanied by extreme degradation. He said the victim believed the blood-curdling threats made by Berkley and felt her life was in danger. He said the entire ordeal involved excessive cruelty, degradation and demeaning behaviour.

Mr Justice White said he had to also take into account the mitigating factors outlined to the court. He said Berkley was taken into care at 15 months old and placed into various care settings. He was kicked out of school at the age of 12 for "extreme violence" and never went back or had a job.

Mr Justice White said he was not optimistic about the prospects of rehabilitation. A doctor found Berkley had a significantly compromised development and suffered from a severe personality disorder.

The judge said it was unfortunate that such a young person was going to prison for so long but said Berkley had to bear total personal responsibility for that as these were "most horrific" crimes involving the degradation of an innocent person.

Irish Independent

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