Tuesday 17 July 2018

'What happened to me as a child will never go away'

Rape victim speaks out as notorious criminal is jailed for 10 years

Ruth Dunne (centre) leaving court yesterday with her family and friends
Ruth Dunne (centre) leaving court yesterday with her family and friends

Jason O'Brien

THE victim of what a judge described as one of the most repulsive sex offences he has encountered in his 18 years on the bench bravely waived her anonymity yesterday as her attacker was jailed for a decade.

Holding back the tears, Ruth Dunne, now aged 25, stood on the steps of the new Criminal Courts of Justice building in Dublin and spoke of her joy that notorious criminal Stephen 'Rossi' Walsh's horrific crimes could be exposed.

Earlier, Walsh had remained impassive inside the Central Criminal Court as Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced Walsh.

Mr Justice Carney declared him a sex offender for raping and orally raping the then nine-year-old in the early 1990s.

And he listed why Walsh was "disentitled" to the "most fruitful sources" of mitigation or mercy.

Walsh had not entered an early guilty plea. Nor had he shown genuine remorse. Nor did he have a record of previous good character to fall back on.

Walsh took it all in, but let nothing out.

He was found guilty of the crimes last Monday.

Yesterday, sitting in the dock with his arms folded across his tracksuit top; he evidently knew what was coming.

Mr Justice Carney said that the "guess the fruit-and-veg" game, in which Walsh tricked his blindfolded victim into oral rape, was one of the most repulsive sex offences he has ever encountered in his tenure as judge.

He said he found it "particularly revolting" that Walsh planned that attack -- buying the fruit and vegetables in a supermarket beforehand.

The judge also noted the "inherent gravity" of the attacks, the young age of the victim and Walsh's threats of retaliation towards her parents.

Walsh didn't flinch as he heard the 10-year prison term handed down.

Mr Justice Carney also imposed seven years' post- release supervision and warned Walsh he could be jailed again if he failed to abide by its terms.

"Evil bastard," a woman said from the centre of the court, but Walsh was already leaving the dock, with some of his possessions in a clear plastic bag slung over his shoulder.

Ms Dunne (25) waived her right to anonymity outside the court.


She spoke of how glad she was that "it has been exposed to the public what he really is".

Walsh is a notorious criminal, with 10 previous convictions for larceny, armed robbery and assault. He has also been convicted of assaulting women and teenage girls in the past.

In 1992, he was jailed for 15 years for arson following the destruction of Collins's pub, in Ballybough, Dublin. Gardai arrived at the demolished pub to find Walsh inside in a daze. It is believed he was sucked into the pub after blowing it up.

Ms Dunne had told the court that she was relieved when he was jailed for the arson attack, but "felt sick" when she heard of his release years later.

She said she had to take several days off work when she saw him by chance last year, adding that being called a liar under cross-examination and waiting for the jury's decision at the trial's end was the "worst time" of her life.

"What happened to me has not gone away, it will never go away, I am a victim of real child abuse," she said.

Walsh, with an address at Belgrave Road in Rathgar, Dublin had also become something of a celebrity in criminal circles -- by running a legal consultancy for people facing charges after studying law in prison.

In 2000, he won a High Court case to allow prisoners a vote in elections. The decision was later overturned.

The rape trial had heard that Ms Dunne had been attending counselling since 2004 for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and feelings of shame and self-loathing.

She said that, aside from "severe physical pain and soreness", she'd felt confused and fearful after the rapes.

Yesterday, with friends and family also fighting back tears, Ms Dunne said she was pleased with "the justice that has been done today" as she thanked her family, her partner, the Courts Service and the presiding judge.

Irish Independent

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