Woman woke to find man sexually assaulting her

The victim of a sexual assault has declined an offer of compensation from her attacker, telling a court she didn’t want the man’s money and didn’t think it appropriate to accept it.

Electrician, Neil Devane (35), with an address in Togher, Tuam, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting a woman in the town on November 2, 2014.

Garda Jim Carr told the sentence hearing last week that the victim had shut the front door but left it unlocked as other members of her family were out socialising that night.

She woke up at 3am in her own bedroom to find the accused on top of her.  He was naked and was trying to remove her underwear.  She told him to stop and that he was hurting her but he replied:  “C’mon, you know you want it.”

The woman managed to fight him off before running out of the room.

Two other people, who were in the house at the time, removed Devane from the premises.

He was subsequently interviewed by Gardaí.  He denied he had sexually assaulted the woman, whom he knew through a mutual friend.

Devane told Gardaí he had been drinking in various pubs and in a local night-club before going to the house around 3am.

He denied having a key to the house and accepted he must have been there as a trespasser.

The woman chose not to be present in court.  In her impact statement, which was read into evidence by Garda Carr, she said she was nervous to be alone in her home since the attack and she constantly checks the lock on the front door.

Garda Carr said the accused worked on construction sites around the country and returned home every weekend to his parents in Tuam.

Defence barrister, Geri Silke said her client was shocked and deeply ashamed when he heard the next day about what he had done.

She said he had brought €5,000 to court to offer to the woman as a token of his remorse.

Judge Rory McCabe adjourned sentence for a week so that Garda Carr could speak to the woman and gauge her attitude in relation to the offer of compensation.

Garda Carr returned to court this week and said the woman had refused to accept the money.  She told him she didn’t want Devane’s money and she also thought it would be inappropriate to accept it.

Ms Silke said Devane had no previous convictions and if he had not been drinking that night he would not have gone into the house and got into the woman’s bed.

“He’s absolutely mortified about what happened and he offered the €5,000 (to the victim) as a concrete expression of his remorse,” Ms Silke said.

She added Devane was attending AA and was no longer drinking to ensure nothing like this happened again.

Judge Rory McCabe noted the maximum sentence for the offence of sexual assault was ten years.

“The circumstances are quite shocking in this case and must be of the most frightening nature, both physically and psychologically, for the victim.  The appropriate sentence is six years in prison,” Judge McCabe said.

He then listed Devane’s young age, his plea, his previous good record and his parent’s dependence on him as mitigating circumstances in the case, which merited a 30% discount.

He sentenced Devane to four years in prison with the final two years suspended for five years, to act, he said, as a further incentive for the accused to continue to rehabilitate. Devane was also placed on the Sex Offender’s Register.