Two teenagers who followed two young women separately through the streets of Cork City, hitting one with a bottle and subjecting the other to a violent sexual assault, have been jailed for nine and eight years.
Colin O’Sullivan and Adam Heneghan were 18 years old on the night of violence. They had no previous convictions.
The victim of the serious sexual assault said yesterday: “Both young men have never shown any remorse whilst in court and any apology given at this stage to me is meaningless. I honestly believe that no matter how young or old someone is, there is no excuse to understand the difference between right and wrong and what happened to me that night was so wrong that no human being could excuse it for being anything else.”
Judge Patrick J Moran said: “I have been dealing with criminal cases for a long time, this one comes at the upper end of seriousness in so far as assault is concerned. I have to remember the effect of this type of activity on our society. Young women are entitled to go about their business without being harmed, assaulted or viciously attacked by the likes of you.”
The judge said he did not know who was the ringleader, but took the view they were both in it together.
Detective Garda Ann O’Sullivan said a jury found Colin O’Sullivan, aged 20, of 19 Highfield Crescent, Kanturk, Co Cork, guilty of the first crime, of assault causing harm to Ewelina Oprawska outside the Mercy Hospital at Grenville Place, Cork, on the night of Dec 3, 2011. Heneghan, of Upper Dromahane, Mallow, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to that charge.
Both men followed the victim as she walked home in the early hours. She knew she was being followed and stopped outside the Mercy Hospital as there was a security man present.
But Heneghan hit her over the head with a bottle. O’Sullivan picked up the bottle. As the security man chased after them he heard them laughing.
Det Gda James Bugler described the second attack by the duo an hour later. They split up as they jointly followed the second victim, who cannot be identified.
O’Sullivan befriended her and they kissed. O’Sullivan lured her into the car park of the Church of the Holy Cross at Dennehy’s Cross. Once there he became aggressive, the detective said.
“She made efforts to leave, at which time Colin O’Sullivan pushed her into the car park. She then heard footsteps coming from behind her and she was hit over the head with force from a bottle [by Heneghan]. This knocked her to the ground. She described hearing [Heneghan] shouting, ‘Get her on the ground’. She pleaded with her attackers, ‘Don’t do this’. One of the males shouted, ‘Shut up’.” She was put face down on the ground and held by Heneghan as O’Sullivan removed her tights and underwear.
The victim, who is in her early-30s, kicked and screamed and tried to dial 999 with her phone. Noticing this, one of the attackers, said: “Fuck, she has a phone.” They left, after taking €50 from her handbag.
Judge Moran said CCTV and excellent police work brought the defendants to justice. At about 4am, the victim made her way on to Wilton Road where a couple driving past, stopped, assisted her and called gardaí.
Heneghan and O’Sullivan apologised to the victims yesterday. During the Garda investigation, O’Sullivan claimed it was all Heneghan’s idea and that he only went along with it.
James O’Mahony, defence senior counsel, said O’Sullivan had been slow in school and this would have been totally out of character.
Marjorie Farrelly, defence senior counsel, said Heneghan came from a very respectable family background and had no previous convictions.
O’Sullivan got four years for the assault on Ms Oprawska, and six years for the sexual assault on the other woman, the sentences to be consecutive, with the last year to be suspended.
Heneghan who pleaded guilty to all charges got three years for the assault on Ms Oprawska, and six years for the sexual assault on the other woman, the sentences to be consecutive, and the last year of the nine to be suspended.
Robbery charges were taken into consideration.
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT
‘I wasn’t going to give up without a fight’
“On the evening of Friday, Dec 2, 2011, I headed out for a social Christmas party with ex-colleagues and planned to enjoy some good memories from the night.
“It was through no fault of my own that it was a very busy night for taxis and it was unfortunate that the taxi man who was bringing my friend to East Cork wouldn’t take me in the opposite direction. So when it was proving difficult to get one heading my direction, I decided to walk out towards where I lived.
“I had no idea that two young men were following me as I was chatting to a friend of mine on my phone. I will always regret from that night being a bad judge of character as I befriended the man who turned out to be someone who had no other intention only to attack me.
“He very quickly turned into someone aggressive and nasty and he pushed me into Dennehy’s Cross churchyard. His friend came from nowhere and bottled me over the head with a glass bottle. It was then that I realised that he wasn’t alone in this sexual assault.
“I was absolutely terrified and knew exactly what their intentions were as soon as I fell face first to the ground. I felt one of them on top of me, holding me down and felt my tights being pulled aggressively. I begged and pleaded with them to leave me alone and just get off me but they chose to ignore my pleas.
“As much as I tried to kick and scream, I knew I wasn’t going to give up without a fight. I remembered I had my phone in my right hand so I attempted to dial 999.
“Following the attack, I was aware that I had told one of the culprits where I lived. This was a massive concern to me and I immediately changed the locks and have since moved to a new address.
“Since the attack, I rarely socialise in Cork City centre and I certainly will not walk home alone. I am always fearful of walking alone especially in the hours of darkness. This attack ruined my last two Christmases and the build-up to every Christmas after this will never have the same excitement as I will have those awful memories of what took place that night at Dennehy’s Cross Church.
“I am forever grateful that the man and woman in the car luckily stopped to see what had happened and they knew I was in an awful state with blood in my hair and crying hysterically. Ironically, the whole attack was only a matter of minutes but that night it seemed to last a lifetime.
“Following the attack, I was dreading facing my two attackers in court. I found giving evidence of the attack traumatic to say the least and it brought back the nightmare of what occurred to me. Both young men have never shown any remorse whilst in court and any apology given at this stage to me is meaningless.
“I honestly believe that no matter how young or old someone is, there is no excuse to understand the difference between right and wrong and what happened to me that night was so wrong that no human being could excuse it for being anything else.
“Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to firstly thank Ewelina [Oprawska] for coming forward, she will never know how grateful I am that she did. And to the gardaí who through their tireless effort and all their hard work to get this case as far as today, thank you so much.”