Predator Joseph McArdle was pictured moments after he jumped on a woman who was out running by the River Boyne in a broad-daylight attack she feared would claim her life.
McArdle (32), from Grangebellew, Co Louth, who was in a state of sexual arousal when he pinned the woman to the ground and put his hand over her mouth as she screamed for help, was jailed for four years this week after pleading guilty to false imprisonment.
The woman thought she was going to die during her ordeal and said that in light of what happened Ashling Murphy in Tullamore earlier this year she felt very lucky. She added that she is now afraid to go running alone.
A picture was taken moments after the attack by a man who chased after McArdle after the attack and held him until gardaí arrived.
McArdle pleaded guilty to the woman's false imprisonment on July 26, 2020, at Oldbridge, Co Meath.
At Trim Circuit Court this week Judge Martina Baxter said it had “clearly been a frightening and traumatising” ordeal for the victim.
Judge Baxter sentenced McArdle to five and a half years with the final eighteen months suspended.
Evidence in the case was heard earlier this year and then adjourned for sentencing.
Garda John Spain told prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe BL during the earlier hearing that the woman noticed the defendant ahead of her on the boardwalk between Drogheda and Oldbridge that Sunday morning and immediately felt uneasy about his demeanour.
She tried to accelerate past him but McArdle grabbed her and threw her on the ground before getting on top of her.
The woman told gardaí she thought he was going to strangle her or stab her or throw her into the River Boyne and when she began screaming he put his hand over her mouth.
She said she stopped struggling and managed to reason with him. When he loosened his grip and got off her, she ran for help and met two other runners while a third caught up with her attacker as he walked away and kept him at the scene until gardaí arrived.
McArdle gave gardaí a false name at first but was recognised by Garda Antoinette Power at Drogheda Garda Station.
McArdle initially said he had got angry when his victim refused to give him a cigarette and added: “I attacked that woman”.
He claimed he had been awake and drinking all night prior to the incident, adding that he had been attempting to kiss the woman and had restrained her until he copped himself on.
He said he had been sexually aroused at the time and asking for a cigarette had only been an excuse for grabbing her.
The woman in her victim impact statement said she thought she was going to die during the attack and had since suffered recurring nightmares and flashbacks and had been plagued with thoughts of what might have happened.
The woman, who is a marathon runner, said that she was now afraid to go running alone.
She thanked those who had helped her on the day adding that in light of what happened to Ashling Murphy she felt very lucky.
Judge Martina Baxter praised the woman for her bravery describing her as a “great role model” and remanded the defendant on bail for sentence.
Defence barrister Donough McDonough BL told the resumed hearing his client who had a long standing problem with alcohol and cannabis abuse had written a letter of apology to the victim.
The judge said it had “clearly been a frightening and traumatizing” ordeal for the victim.
Defence barrister Donough McDonough told the resumed hearing his client suffered from a lifelong communication disorder and from alcohol and cannabis abuse.
Since the incident McArdle who had been homeless at the time of the attack had written a letter of apology to the victim.
In the letter he said he was “so very sorry” for his behaviour and added that the incident had 'opened his eyes to what drink and drugs' can do to him.
Judge Baxter said it had “clearly been a frightening and traumatizing” ordeal for the victim who had been '”a very brave woman on the day and very brave in coming to court”.
The judge noted the contents of a medical report which outlined the defendant's addiction and other issues as well as a probation report in which he denied the assault was sexually motivated.
Judge Baxter noted that this assertion contradicted McArdle's earlier admission to gardaí.
The judge described as “menacing” the fact that McArdle had put his hand over the victim's mouth and she also expressed concern that he had given a false name.
Judge Baxter sentenced McArdle to five and a half years with the final eighteen months suspended on condition he remain under the supervision of the Probation Service for eighteen months after his release.