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Man convicted of sexual assault ‘is a dangerous sexual predator and everyone should know his name,’ judge says – The Irish Times | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

A woman kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a Limerick father of one told her attacker in court: “I refuse to let you destroy the rest of my life.”

Denis O’Donovan (38), who works in the construction industry, was named for the first time in a sentencing hearing on Friday after a judge lifted reporting restrictions in the case.

The victim told O’Donovan’s sentencing hearing: “He [O’Donovan] is a dangerous sexual predator and everyone should know his name.”

O’Donovan, with an address at Ballyryan, Donohill, Co Tipperary, had pleaded not guilty at his trial last April to one count of falsely imprisoning the woman, as well as three counts of sexually assaulting her, and one count of assault causing her harm, on the night of January 17th, 2020.

A jury at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court convicted him on all but one alleged sexual assault.

Det Gda Chris Cowan, Bruff Garda station, told the sentencing hearing that O’Donovan imprisoned and sexually assaulted the victim while he was on bail for an aggravated burglary. In that case he used an axe to break into another woman’s house as she slept on March 17th, 2019. He pleaded guilty and was given a three-year suspended sentence.

O’Donovan had previous convictions mostly for alcohol-related public order offences.

Prosecution barrister, Lily Buckley, said O’Donovan called to the victim’s rural home, and when she went outside with a torch to see who was there, O’Donovan “pulled her into his car and kept her against her will”.

He drove the woman to an isolated area and started to “choke” her, with his two hands around her neck.

“She was pinned, her hips were wedged between the two front seats and she was being choked,” said Ms Buckley.

O’Donovan “pulled down” the victim’s pants and underwear and “repeatedly” sexually assaulted her while holding her down against her will.

The woman escaped when she asked O’Donovan if she could get more comfortable in the car.

After fleeing the car “the woman was so desperate to get away she ran through briars in a ditch”.

“She stayed there listening out for [O’Donovan’s] car, and she ultimately returned to her house and made a 999 call and alerted gardaí”.

The woman was examined at a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) and was found to have sustained bruising and trauma around her genitals, knee, thigh and shin; as well as scratch marks on her face and arms.

Marks on the victim’s neck were “consistent with being choked”, the examination found.

The victim told gardaí she was not expecting O’Donovan, and she denied his claims that he had called to her home to drop off cannabis.

O’Donovan denied he had sexually assaulted the woman.

He was eventually charged after his DNA was found in salvia discharge discovered on the victim’s underwear and on the underwear itself.

O’Donovan’s DNA was also discovered on a cardigan the woman was wearing on the night.

Gardaí found the victim’s torch in a briar covered ditch where she had hid from O’Donovan, as well as car tyre marks in the area where he had assaulted her.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said the attack by O’Donovan was “absolutely terrifying, traumatising, degrading and disgusting”.

“I was dragged into his car, driven at speed down the road, and had to try to escape by jumping out of a moving car, only for him to grab me with both hands choking me violently, pinning me down with one hand on my throat while he sexually assaulted me in a disgusting degrading way.”

“No words can ever fully describe the absolute terror of being choked, and believing I was going to die.”

“After the attack I couldn’t eat or sleep, I used to stay awake at night listening for fear of him returning.”

“A year after the attack I couldn’t cope with the trauma any more. I was suicidal and was going to kill myself, I had it all planned, I had a breakdown and ended up in hospital spending weeks in a secure mental health unit.”

“I have suffered panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares since the attack on an almost daily basis, and I became confined to home because the fear and panic was overwhelming.”

The woman said she changed from being a “happy confident person who loved to outdoors” to someone not able to leave her own house.

“He has taken everything I enjoyed about life away from me,” she said. “Since this attack I have been called for a routine smear test. I know the importance of cervical screening but I just can’t bring myself to go for this. I am now years overdue for it but I may never be able to go for it.”

She said she turned to alcohol to block out the trauma.

“After all of this for him to put me through a trial which was so daunting, as I had never been to court in my life before all of this, to have to sit and listen to his outrages and disgusting lies, felt like another attack.”

“He has taken years of my life that I will never get back. He may be going to jail, but I feel like I’ve been in jail the last four years.”

Judge Dermot Sheehan remanded O’Donovan in continuing custody for sentence on June 7th.

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