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Son of former Galway mayor gets ten years for violent sexual attack

A SON of the former mayor of Galway who violently sexually assaulted a nurse in a laneway causing her severe head injuries has received a ten year prison sentence.

Brian Maher (25) of Clostoken, Loughrea, County Galway, had pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault and assault causing harm to the woman, in Bohermore, Galway City, on October 16, 2010.

Maher is the son of Fine Gael Councilor Michael Maher, who has just completed a term as the Lord Mayor of County Galway.

Passing sentence at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy described the crime as an “opportunistic” and “out of the blue” attack which involved a “great deal of gratuitous violence”.

The victim – who is now aged 38 - was on her way home from a night out when she was attacked.

She took a taxi for part of the journey and then walked the remainder of the route. Maher grabbed her and pulled her into an alleyway. He banged her head off a wall and she fell to the ground.

Maher then ripped open her jeans and tried to rape her.

Eyewitnesses living near the scene described seeing a woman lying on the ground struggling and screaming with a man crouched above her punching her repeatedly in the face and head.

The victim suffered a broken nose, a fractured cheekbone and nose, vaginal bruising, multiple abrasions and lacerations during the attack. Her tooth was knocked out and she briefly lost consciousness.

Maher admitted he penetrated the woman with at least one of his fingers. He ran away but was caught a short time later after a struggle with gardai.

A medical report handed into the court said the victim will continue to suffer very severe symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder long into the future, even with professional help.

The report said it is extremely unlikely that she will ever make a full recovery or return to the carefree woman she was before the attack.

It noted that at the time of the attack the “terrified” victim believed Maher was going to kill her.

In a victim impact statement previously read out to the court she said she has become a “ghost” of her former self and that she constantly suffers nightmares of Maher being released from prison.

Mr Justice McCarthy said that he didn’t think Maher’s guilty plea last October was offered for “tactical purposes” and that he believed that an apology offered by Maher had a “degree of sincerity” to it.

He said that the offer of compensation, rejected by the victim, was of minor consideration. He said he could not take into consideration a testimonial from a local priest which referred to the standing of Maher’s family in the community.

He said Maher had sought to rehabilitate himself while in custody and noted he plans to take part in a programme for sex offenders.

Justice McCarthy backdated a sentence of ten years imprisonment to October 17, 2010 as Maher has been in custody since that date. He suspended the last three years of this sentence on the condition that Maher keep the peace and not communicate or approach the victim for three years.

He rejected an offer by defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC to impose the order to stay away from the victim in perpetuity.