Friday 24 November 2017

Sex attacker to escape jail by paying €15,000

Graham Griffiths: assaulted teenage girl outside chip shop
Graham Griffiths: assaulted teenage girl outside chip shop

Sonya McLean

A MAN who committed a violent sex attack on a teenager has escaped jail on condition he pay her €15,000, sparking anger among rape support groups.

Graham Griffiths (29) told gardai that he felt he was "under some magnetic force" and "it must have been the hormones" that caused him to attack the 17-year-old girl.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a four-year sentence -- which he suspended in full on conditions including that Griffiths pay €15,000 to his victim within one year "to bring home the seriousness of what he has done".

But Cliona Sadlier, of the Rape Crisis Network, said it was an example of a man "buying his freedom" following a sexual assault.

"We would have concerns about the apparent payment in lieu of a jail sentence," she said.

Abuse survivor Andrew Madden, meanwhile, took to Twitter to voice his anger about the sentence: "This is unbelievable," he wrote.

Judge Nolan noted that while Griffiths was collecting this money or repaying loans to family he would have little or no money to spend on drink or drugs. He said if the woman did not wish to receive the money the court would decide where it would go.

Griffiths, of The Saltings, Annagassan, Co Louth, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting the girl on April 17, 2011.

Drugs

He had been at a drugs party the previous night and later admitted to gardai that he had taken hallucinogenic drugs along with alcohol.

He is originally from Dublin but has been living in Louth with his girlfriend for the last six years. The couple plan to get married.

Griffiths has previous convictions, four of which are for assault causing harm.

A victim impact report handed into the court said that the victim had attended for counselling every fortnight for the last six months and still suffered flashbacks and had trouble sleeping.

She did not leave her home for more a month and did not want to attend court as she could not face Griffiths.

The court heard that Griffiths first approached the girl in a chip shop in a Dublin suburb but she pushed him away. He then grabbed her a second time on the street outside but she got away again before he grabbed her a third time.

This time he pushed her against railings and sexually assaulted her before he dragged her to the ground by her hair and pinned her by lying on top of her.

Griffiths ripped the girl's clothes in an effort to get them off her. During the attack her male friend was trying to get him off the victim.

After his arrest Griffiths told gardai "I wanted to make her feel inferior because I am not on the same level emotionally."

Irish Independent

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