Friday 27 April 2018

Suspended sentence for man who sexually assaulted drunk girl (16)

Sonya McLean

A 44-YEAR-OLD Louth man who sexually assaulted an extremely intoxicated 16-year-old girl in a housing estate has received a suspended sentence of three years at the Central Criminal Court.

Paul McQuillan of Lawrences Park, Drogheda, pleaded guilty on his trial date to sexual assault on November 5, 2007. He has no previous convictions.

Garda Tracey Brennan told Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, that gardai were alerted after two women walking their dog saw a young girl with her trousers around her ankles and McQuillan beside her.

When gardai arrived on the scene, the girl was partially clothed. She was so drunk she could not even give her name and was not aware of her surroundings.

Gda Brennan said McQuillan was aggressive towards gardai and arrested for a public order offence. He later claimed he thought the girl was 18.

McQuillan admitted he had met the girl earlier in the night in a pub and had kissed her there. He said she was thrown out of the pub because she was so drunk she vomited.

He told gardai in interview that he left with the girl to look after her and got a taxi to a housing estate where he believed she lived. He admitted fondling her but said he believed she was “a willing participant”.

Gda Brennan said McQuillan later accepted that given the girl’s level of intoxication she would not have been in a position to consent to any sexual activity but he “consistently” maintained she told him she was 18.

The victim had prepared a victim impact report for the court in which she stated that she is still “trying to rack my brains, trying to fill in the gaps” from the night but she has no recollection of it.

She said she was taken into care again after the attack and felt that she had been punished because of what happened.

“I was a drunk 16-year-old girl who was taken advantage of by a 40-year-old man who should have known better,” the victim said in her report.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the factors mitigating in McQuillan’s favour were his guilty plea and his co-operation with gardai.

He also referred to the shame and remorse which was expressed to gardai by McQuillan at an early stage in the investigation. The judge noted McQuillan’s previous good character.

He said there were exceptional circumstances in the case which allowed him to suspend the sentence of three years.

Jonathan Kilfeather SC, defending, told Mr Justice Sheehan that his client had been assessed as having a low IQ.

He said he had previously suffered a head injury after he fell down the stairs drunk and has had consistent problems with his memory since.

Mr Kilfeather added that his client honestly believed the girl was 18 at the time and was under the impression she lived in the housing estate to which they got the taxi.

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