'I really thought I was going to die' - Woman raped outside her home after night out describes terror of attack
Debbie Cole speaks as Independent Alliance TD Kevin 'Boxer' Moran describes new bill that will give serial sex offenders tougher sentences
A woman has told of how she thought she was “going to die” during a violent rape attack.
Debbie Cole (47) was raped by an older man when she was just 19, after leaving a Dublin pub and sharing a taxi home. She was pulled in under a stairway in her flat complex and beaten and held down during the attack. At one point, she said she believed she was going to die.
She said all she could think of was that her younger siblings would find her body in the morning.
Speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio One, Ms Cole described how a garda visited her home after the incident and convinced her to defend her attacker.
She said: "We were sitting there, he was having a cup of coffee, a cigar, we were just chatting. He said to me that this guy was a really nice guy, he came from a good background and a respectable family.
"He wasn’t known to the police and it was so out of character for him. It was basically a mistake he made with drink in him."
Ms Cole said she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time and had been “naive” about the encounter.
She said: "I was brought up to respect the guards, they know the law. So I thought this guy knows best, this man is not a bad man, I can help. So I told the judge I forgave him."
Ms Cole asked the judge to provide the man with psychological help instead of a prison sentence. He was subsequently sentenced for six years, though the judge had previously considered handing down a sentence "in the double figures."
The man has since re-offended multiple times and is currently serving his third prison sentence.
Ms Cole spoke on this morning’s programme alongside Independent Alliance TD Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, who recently proposed a bill that will seek to ensure that a sex offender who has a previous conviction for a similar crime must serve at least three-quarters of the maximum sentence for the second offence.
Mr Moran said this is a "vital piece of legislation" which will see longer prison sentences handed down to repeat sex offenders.
Mr Moran was approached by Ms Cole before the general election last year and have since been working together to get the legislation passed. He said the bill has been backed by incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Ms Cole said that sharing her story has been an "emotional rollercoaster", but hopes the bill will be finalised and sex offenders will face tougher penalties.
She said: "If this helps one other person not to be raped, well then every other time I have to talk about it, it will be well worth it."