A 24-year-old man who had hoped to work in childcare was jailed for three years for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl couch-surfing overnight at a friend’s house and a similar attack on a 19-year-old three years later.
Christopher Twohig, of Banteer West, Co Cork, was sentenced to one year for the first sexual assault at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday and a concurrent four years for the second crime with the last year suspended.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said any one these crimes merited a jail term but he said it was very troubling that there were two such crimes that were very similar in nature, one in 2011 and the other in 2014.
The first sexual assault was committed between August and October 2011 when the injured party was 15 and the accused was aged between 18 and 19.
She was visiting a house and decided to stay the night. She fell asleep on the couch with her legs in front of her on a coffee table. The defendant, whom she knew, was sitting beside her watching television when she fell asleep.
At around 5am, she woke to find the accused interfering with her. She froze and pretended she was still asleep as she did not know what to do.
Her legs were at this time across his lap. Over a period of about 15 minutes as she pretended to sleep he fondled her breasts and put his fingers inside her vagina.
Around Christmastime in 2014, the second victim was staying in a house were a number of friends were staying. She went to bed alone and woke to find Twohig lying behind her with his fingers in her vagina.
Twohig pleaded guilty to both sexual assaults. He had no previous convictions. Donal O’Sullivan, defending, said Twohig was educated to third level and had hoped to work in childcare but that this career was now denied to him because he would not get through Garda vetting for such work.
The victim of the 2014 assault did not wish to make a victim impact statement. The victim of the 2011 assault did give evidence yesterday.
“Those 20 minutes made my life shatter because I almost disconnect myself from that 15-year-old girl,” she said. “When I think back at what happened I can’t help but feel sorry for that 15-year-old. I put all the blame on myself and carried it with me for many years.
“He saw me as dirt and used me for his own benefit. This challenged my relationship with my family and every other relationship I ever had.
“I struggled in college and school. I didn’t think I was worth enough to do as well in life as everyone else. I was damaged and just something for people to use.
“I have been bullied and shamed for speaking up.”
The victim thanked her family, gardaí, and Support After Crime Services.
The accused cried during yesterday’s sentencing hearing. He got into the witness box to apologise to the two young women he sexually assaulted.
“I am extremely sorry. For what they have had to go through over the last few years I am extremely sorry,” he said yesterday.
Mr O’Sullivan said the defendant came from a well-respected family who were devastated by this. He said the defendant and been getting help for his difficulties and was also dealing with an alcohol problem.
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