Thursday 22 August 2019

Woman escaped rapist after 'savage, brutal and prolonged' attack when smoke alarm distracted him

*Warning: Graphic detail*

Stock picture
Stock picture

Declan Brennan

A Limerick man has been sentenced to 12 and a half years imprisonment for punching, kicking and repeatedly raping a woman in her home

The “savage, brutal and prolonged” attack by Alan Hanley (34) only came to an end when the woman ran naked from her house with only a towel and a throw on her while the rapist tried to turn off a smoke alarm.

The alarm went off because Hanley was burning cut-up pieces of a rug on which he had ejaculated during the attack.

Hanley, formerly of Upper Carey's Road in Limerick city, and latterly of no fixed abode, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of rape at a house in the city on the night of May 4th and 5th, 2012.

He had admitted assaulting the woman causing her harm on the same occasion.

After a retrial last month a jury returned guilty verdicts on the three rape charges.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy imposed sentences of 12 and a half years for each of the rape offences. She imposed the maximum possible sentence of five years for the assault, saying it was hard to envisage a more serious attack.

“He terrorised her for more than an hour, putting her in real fear of her life,” the judge said. All sentences will run concurrently from May 2012 when he was in custody.

Hanley has previous convictions for violent crimes, including possession of a knife in 2000 and threats to kill in 2007 and 2008. He was convicted of intimidating a witness in his own 2008 case.

At the time of the attack the victim had been seeking treatment for abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs. The court heard her rehabilitation attempts were set back after the attack but she had made significant progress more recently.

She suffered from nightmares which left her terrified to sleep and still attends weekly counselling with the Rape Crisis Centre. Ms Justice Murphy said the woman had worked hard on her personal growth and self esteem.

The victim had met Hanley some weeks before the attack, the court heard. Two nights before the rape Hanley and the victim had a serious falling out.

Sergeant Andrew Lacey told the sentence hearing that on the night of the attack Hanley went to the woman's house and began punching and kicking her when she answered the door. He continued to attack her until she was lying in a ball by the fireplace.

He then tore all her clothes off and raped her on the rug before dragging her by her hair into a shower where he “hosed her down”, the court heard.

She tried to escape but he caught her and raped her a second time and dragged her into the shower again. He dragged her downstairs where he raped her a third time.

After the third rape Hanley ejaculated and some of this went on the rug. He became enraged and started cutting up the rug and began burning these cut-up pieces in the fireplace.

He also burned all her underwear and other clothing, telling her “they'll get no evidence here”.

During the sentencing hearing Hanley, who had dismissed his legal team after his conviction, repeatedly shouted at the judge that he was not a rapist and called the victim a liar.

He shouted: “You're making me out to be an animal”. Ms Justice Murphy warned him that she would sentence him in his absence if he continued to shout.

She told him he has a constitutional right to appeal the conviction. Hanley shouted that he would be appealing.

The woman told the trial that during the assault Hanley was roaring and shouting that she had been leading him on.

She said: "He kicked me in the ribs, he punched me in the face, he banged my head off, everything possible. It felt like it went on forever.

“I made a run for it but he caught me and took me back into the shower. I was completely naked. He put the shower on, he hosed me down," she testified.

She said she grabbed a towel to try to cover herself and he then caught her by the hair and took her back down to the sitting room.

"I feared for my life," she told the court. Hanley beat her again before raping her a second time.

"The second occasion was similar except I wasn't crying or screaming. I just said nothing," she said.

Afterwards he dragged her back to the shower before bringing her downstairs to rape her a third time.

She told the trial he placed a knife forcefully against her chin. He started cutting up the rug and began burning these cut up pieces in the fireplace. He also burned all her underwear and other clothing.

The woman said that Hanley was wiping the stairs banister saying "they'll get no evidence from me".

The fire alarm went off upstairs and he went up to turn it off. The woman then seized her chance and ran out to the street looking for help.

She testified: "I don't know where I got the adrenaline rush to run. I just ran and ran and ran". A woman who saw her came out out of her home and brought her inside and telephoned the gardaí.

When she was treated at a hospital she was found to have bruises or cuts to her mouth, chin, lips, ears, thighs, knees and shoulder. Gardai found blood stains on an upturned coffee table in the sitting room, on the stairs, on the door frames to the bathroom and on shower tiles.

Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, told the court that the State has a duty to present mitigation on behalf on a accused who was representing himself. Mr Condon told the court that the State had found no relevant evidence of mitigation.

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