Man broke into home of vulnerable woman and sexually assaulted her

A Kerry man who broke into the home of a vulnerable woman and sexually assaulted her before stealing money will be sentenced next week at the Central Criminal Court.

Shane Fitzgerald (26) wrote a letter to the court in which he said: “I am the first to agree I deserve a custodial sentence.” He said he could not believe what he had done but was ready to address his issues such as drink, drugs and anger management so nothing like this would happen again.

Fitzgerald, of Tullorum, Spa, Killarney, pleaded guilty to burglary and sexual assault at the woman's home in a Co Kerry town in September 2016.

Fitzgerald has 56 previous convictions for offences including assault, criminal damage, public order and road traffic offences. He has been in custody since October 2016.

A local detective garda told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that Fitzgerald was socialising in a Kerry town earlier that evening and could be traced through various pubs on CCTV. He and two other men ended up at a house that gardai believe was previously a brothel.

They kicked at the door and threw cans at the windows but failed in their drunken attempts to get in.

He said they moved on and later found an open door at a building containing a number of flats. The victim, described as a vulnerable woman in her fifties, lived in one of the flats and was awoken at 3.30am by banging on her door. She heard people shouting: “Open the door we are the gardai.”

The woman saw two men at the door. The court heard Fitzgerald came into the flat and the second man, who did not like how things were developing, ran away from the building. No charges have been brought against anyone else in relation to the case.

Fitzgerald pulled down his pants, took out his penis and told the woman to suck it. The petrified woman did so. She offered him money or anything he wanted from the house

Fitzgerald took a sum of money before running from the flat. The woman ran “screaming and roaring” in terror from her flat and was assisted by a neighbour.

Gardai were alerted and a number of days later arrested Fitzgerald. He was described as emotional, aggressive and angry at various stages during the interviews and made partial admissions.

The court heard the victim suffered psychological effects as a result of the offence and becomes visibly upset when speaking about it. She is in counselling and did not complete a victim impact statement as it was feared it may set her back. She has never returned to her flat.

The detective garda agreed that Fitzgerald had been pretty intoxicated as a result of a combination of substances on the night. He agreed that Fitzgerald had expressed remorse at the end of the garda interview and a guilty plea had been indicated at an early stage in the case.

Brendan Grehan SC, defending said his client accepted responsibility and was deeply ashamed of his actions. He said Fitzgerald had an extraordinarily unhappy and violent childhood. He was living alone from an early age which facilitated drinking and smoking cannabis.

Counsel said his client was willing to address his issues. Fitzgerald had started an anger management course and had been referred for psychological counselling. He asked the court to allow for the possibility of rehabilitation.

Fitzgerald wrote a letter to the court in which he said he was sorry for what he had done and said he was "not that kind of person." He said he had struggled all his life with drink and drugs but was ready to change his life and address his issues.

Mr Grehan asked the court to take into account Fitzgerald's guilty plea. He submitted his client could have waited until a trial to see if the "vulnerable and fragile" victim would come to court. He said Fitzgerald was adamant he did not wish to do that.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy adjourned finalisation of the case until next Monday.


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