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Rapist ex-hotel owner given six years in prison

A former hotel owner has been given a six-year sentence for raping an employee after a staff party.

Brian Shaughnessy (47) raped the young woman in the presidential suite of the Loughrea Hotel and Spa.

Shaughnessy, with an address at Ballywinna, Craughwell, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape at the Lough Rea Hotel and Spa in Galway on July 26, 2010, but was convicted by a jury following a trial in March.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan yesterday suspended the final year of the six-year sentence on condition that Shaughnessy be of good behaviour and keep the peace for a period of one year post-release.

The judge noted that the accused had not accepted the jury's verdict. He said he would suspend one further year of the six-year sentence on condition Shaughnessy undertakes the Better Lives rehabilitation programme for sex offenders while in prison.

Mr Justice Sheehan said he took into the account the seriousness of the offence and the effect it had had on the young victim and on her education, particularly the depression she had suffered.

However he also said he accepted the various character references submitted on behalf of the accused, which indicated that his actions had been out of character.

FAMILY

Mr Justice Sheehan accepted that Shaughnessy had actively supported and contributed to the development of his local community both through his involvement with the GAA and his business, and that he was very much involved in the upbringing of his young family.

During the trial, the young woman outlined in a victim impact statement the effect of the rape on her life and family. She told the court: "From the moment I left the room, I was changed."

She said she lost interest in her appearance and eating. She lashed out at the slightest thing and had panic attacks.

She became afraid to fall asleep in case Shaughnessy was in the room. When she did sleep she suffered nightmares about being trapped in a room with a mattress and being raped.

"Physically, mentally and emotionally I was raped. I am a real person who was raped ... I am your daughter, sister and friend."

She said she had been worried about getting pregnant and contracting sexually transmitted diseases. She had to wait a week to get the all-clear and said she should not have been going through that at her age.

"You never took responsibility for what you did," she told Shaughnessy.

BUSINESS

Martin Giblin, defending, handed in testimonials and a number of reports into court. He said local business and professional people in the area spoke highly of Shaughnessy.

Mr Giblin said Shaughnessy had run a successful business, made a positive contribution to his community and provided employment for up to 100 people.

He said that, once the crash came, Shaughnessy "lost everything" and has now been "deprived of the society of his family".

Shaughnessy was a person of previous good character and the jury verdict has had a serious effect on him, but his main concern is the effect on his family and children.

He said Shaughnessy continues to assert his innocence.

hnews@herald.ie


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