A 28-year-old man who sexually assaulted a woman as she slept in a friend’s house, went to his parish priest to look for guidance before telling his family about what he had done.
Brian Finnegan, from Kilsallagh, Williamstown, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last October to sexually assaulting the then 22-year-old woman in a house at University Road on October 15, 2017.
The Director of Public Prosecutions had initially directed the charge could be dealt with at District Court level if Finnegan entered a guilty plea, but he pleaded not guilty when the matter came before Galway District Court in 2018 and was sent forward for trial to the higher court.
Finnegan appeared before the Circuit Court last October for trial where he changed his plea to guilty when the charge was put to him.
Sentence was adjourned for the preparation of a victim impact statement and for a probation report on Finnegan.
Garda Vicky Duggan told the sentence hearing the young woman had returned to her friend’s house following a girls’ night out and had gone to sleep in her friend’s bed alone.
She woke up during the night to find Finnegan on top of her. She tried to push him off and get up, but he pushed her back onto the bed before sexually assaulting her.
She shouted for help when she saw Finnegan attempting to take off his boxer shorts and managed to push him off her as her friend came into the room to assist her. Finnegan was told to leave the house immediately afterwards.
He was subsequently interviewed by Garda Duggan and made certain admissions.
“He admitted he didn’t know the woman, and had “tried it on” but nothing else happened,” she said.
The woman became upset at times while reading her victim impact statement to the court. She said she still struggled to deal with what happened to her.
“He took advantage of me. I woke up to the horror of him trying to undress me against my own free will. I was living a nightmare, I cried so much that night,” she said.
The incident had left her feeling angry, sad, lonely and sick. She said she had become a burden to her family and boyfriend and she was always fearful that people would judge her if they knew she had been sexually assaulted.
“I get angry and sad when I hear the words ‘sexual assault’ and ‘rape’,” she sobbed.
The woman said to her attacker that she wanted him to think every day about what he had done to her.
Defence barrister, Michael Clancy, apologised to the woman on behalf of his client and assured her that he did think every day of what he did that night and felt ashamed.
“He was so distraught about this that before telling his family, he went to his parish priest and he gave him guidance to deal with this in the appropriate manner,” Mr Clancy said.
A medical report from Finnegan’s GP was handed into court, stating he suffered from low mood since the incident and was on medication.
A letter from his employer at a Roscommon meat factory along with a “glowing tribute” from his former football club, and a letter from the parish priest were also handed in.
“He admitted it was wrong straight away and on the night he himself began to cry on realising what had just occurred,” Mr Clancy said of his client.
Judge Rory McCabe said this had been a reckless and unsolicited attempt by the accused to engage in sexual contact with an innocent victim who woke to find him on top of her.
“His best explanation is that he was drunk and was ‘trying it on’ and that he didn’t know the victim,” the judge noted.
He said that, thankfully, due to the victim’s quick action and the intervention of her friend, the attack ended quickly.
Judge McCabe placed the headline sentence – before aggravating and mitigating circumstances were taken into account – at three years.
However, on hearing the probation service had yet to complete a second, more detailed risk assessment on Finnegan, he decided to adjourn finalisation of sentence to May 22.
“There are no winners in this case and the victim is justifiably outraged at what happened to her,” he said.
Noting Finnegan was already on the Sex Offenders’ Register following his guilty plea last October, Judge McCabe said that was a significant penalty in itself but it was justified for what he described as Finnegan’s “grossly offensive conduct”.
Titans return to the national league for coming season
TITANS BC is returning to the national league for the upcoming 2020/21 season, one of four new teams that will compete in the Men’s Division 1 this year.
The city side will play in the Northern Conference of the league alongside fellow new sides, Drogheda Wolves and Malahide, along with Ulster University from Belfast; LYIT from Donegal; Sligo All-Stars; and Dublin Lions and Tolka Rovers from Dublin.
That looks to be the easier of the two conferences: Dublin Lions were relegated from the Super League at the end of last season, LYIT finished 5th in Division 1, Sligo finished 8th, Ulster University finished 9th, and Tolka Rovers finished 10th in a 12-team league competition that ran as a single league, rather than split into two conferences.
With four new teams for the coming season – Team Kerry are the 4th new side – Division 1 is returning to a split conference format, and all the heavy-hitters would appear to be in the Southern Conference.
Team Kerry will be joined by fellow Killarney side, St Paul’s, which finished second in the league last season, as well as Cork’s Fr Mathews and IT Carlow, who finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
Limerick Celtics and Limerick Eagles, who finished 6th and 7th, are also in the Southern Conference, as well as last season’s bottom two, WIT Waterford and Portlaoise Panthers.
Titans took a one-year hiatus from the league last season, having endured a torrid 2018/19 campaign when it finished with the worst record in the league, winning just two of its 23 league games to finish bottom of the Northern Conference.
Maree and Moycullen will once again represent Galway in the Men’s Super League, which is also being split into a two-conference format, with six teams in each conference. However, while Titans will be looking north for their main opposition, Maree and Moycullen will be looking in the opposite direction as both have been placed in the South Conference.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Group hurling ties to be restricted to supporters of participating teams
NO neutrals will be allowed to attend the opening round of the revamped Galway senior hurling championship which is scheduled to start in little more than a fortnight’s time.
A gathering of 500 – likely to also include the rival players and mentors – will be restricted to each group game, with the participating clubs set to be allocated around 200 tickets each for sale/distribution ahead of the fixture.
A mechanism has still to be sorted for this process, but matches will be restricted to Galway’s three county grounds: Pearse Stadium, Kenny Park, Athenry and Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, along with Loughrea. Killimor was the fifth venue in consideration for hosting senior games, but redevelopment work at the ground has ruled out that prospect.
The full round of 12 group ties will go ahead on the weekend ending July 26, but there will be no double headers. Instead, games at the same venues will be staged four hours apart to allow sanitisation of the various grounds.
Only people with tickets will gain entry to the games and there will be no cash taken at the turnstiles.
Street fight thugs from viral video outside Garda HQ avoid jail
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two men and a woman who were involved in a ‘staged’ fistfight outside the new Garda HQ in Renmore were warned they will serve prison sentences if they don’t stay off social media for two years.
Suspended sentences were imposed on all three over the incident which was recorded on mobile phone and footage went viral on social media.
The altercation between John Maughan (27), formerly of Rinville Park, Oranmore, who now lives in Dublin, and Patrick Maughan (31), of 122 Laurel Park, Newcastle, was filmed on Patrick Maughan’s phone by his wife, Ellen Maughan (31), who is John Maughan’s sister.
The footage was uploaded that evening to YouTube, where it gained a lot of traction.
Galway District Court heard this week the trio were sitting in their cars when Gardaí arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes.
They were subsequently charged with affray at Dublin Road, Murrough, Renmore, on November 2, 2018, in that all three used or threatened to use violence towards each other, thereby putting other people present in fear for their own safety and the safety of others.
Both men were also charged with breaching the peace.
Garda Pat Casey told the sentence hearing the incident occurred at 2.30pm on the main road between GMIT and the Garda HQ.
He said the men’s cars met, whether by accident or design, at that location where they got out and had a fist fight in the middle of the road.
Judge Mary Fahy asked if the location chosen for the fight, right outside the new Garda HQ, was deliberate.
Garda Casey said the men claimed they met by accident, “but that was where they met”, he added.
“The inference is they did it deliberately outside the Station to make it even better on social media. They are an absolute disgrace to do that in public and to do it in front of their children,” Judge Fahy said.
This is a shortened preview version of this court report. To read the article in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.