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15 years for rapist in hen night attack

A 25-YEAR-OLD man who "befriended" a woman separated from her friends during a hen party in Galway city before repeatedly raping and beating her in his flat has been given a 15-year sentence.

The young woman, who feared for her life, managed to escape from a bathroom window after an ordeal lasting several hours and ran naked to a nearby house for help.

Louis Sheils, formerly of Clifton Cresent, Newcastle, Galway, fled the flat before gardai arrived but was arrested two days later in Killarney with sterling currency and a bus ticket to Belfast in his possession.

Sheils pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape, oral rape and false imprisonment of the woman at his rented accommodation on June 5, 2011. He has been in custody since his arrest two days later. Sheils has three previous convictions including assault.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said the case was "one of the worst of its type to come before the court" and merited a sentence of 15 years on the rape charges. He suspended the final three years after taking the mitigating factors into account.



Mr Justice Carney imposed an eight-year concurrent sentence on the false imprisonment charge. He declared the man a sex offender as required by law and ordered 18 months post release supervision.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said she felt that Sheils was not going to let her go: "I fought for my life that night." She said she has been "scarred for life" by the image of her beaten face in the bathroom mirror during the attack.

She said she did not know what the rest of her life would hold, but she felt that the experience has left her a changed person.

Conor Devally, prosecuting, said the Director of Public Prosecutions' view was that the parameters of the offence were "at the very highest level".

Michael O'Higgins, defending, handed in a number of testimonials on behalf of Sheils, who has been diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder Aspergers syndrome. He also submitted a letter of apology from his client.

Sheils said in the letter he was "very sorry" and that it had taken him time to come to terms with what he done and he accepted he must be punished.