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Sex attacker who pulled victim's hair out is jailed

A YOUNG woman has been praised by a judge for fighting off a sex attacker in a south Dublin housing estate.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said if it had not been for the woman's "fortitude" and "bravery" in fighting off Mark Curneen (24), he would be in a different court facing different charges.

She sentenced Curneen of Marfield Gardens, Johnstown Road, Cabinteely, to three-and-a-half years in prison.

Judge Ring suspended the last two years of the sentence on strict conditions, including that he seek treatment.

She said she was particularly worried about the fact that Curneen had sexually misbehaved in a minor way the year after the attack.

Judge Ring acknowledged that services for people with his condition – he has a genetic disorder that affects his muscle development and he has learning difficulties – are limited in the community.

Curneen had pleaded guilty on the morning of his trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexual assault in Marfield Gardens on August 14, 2010.

He was registered a sex offender and the court heard he has two previous district court conviction for indecency in June and August 2011.

DRAGGED

The court heard during the initial sentence hearing last January that the now 22-year-old victim struggled with Curneen the minute he dragged her to the ground.

She tried unsuccessfully to get away from him before he sexually assaulted her.

She then managed to kick out at him, but he dragged her back towards him by her ankle. She freed her ankle and ran off to a friend's house nearby, where the gardai were alerted.

She was left with lumps on her head and clumps of her hair had been pulled out. She had bruises on her body and her ankles were bruised.

Curneen's mother, Caroline, told Judge Ring that her son has both learning and speech difficulties and has since been diagnosed as having Joubert Syndrome, which meant her son had a brain malfunction which affected his muscle development.

Mrs Curneen said she and her family wanted to apologise to the victim for what she has gone through.

She also offered an apology to the local community and said the incident had scared a lot of people and she has lost a lot of friends as a result.

Garda Hilda Lyons told Tara Burns, prosecuting, that the woman gave gardai a detailed description of her attacker and after carrying out house-to-house inquiries, gardai called at Curneen's house.

He admitted that he had been in the area and gardai noticed that he had cuts to his body.

A warrant was obtained to search his house and a pair of jeans was found in a laundry basket. The victim's blood was later found on the jeans.

hnews@herald.ie


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