Rapist taxi driver jailed for 21 years

A TAXI driver who subjected three passengers to a four-hour rape ordeal in his flat has been jailed for 21 years at the Central Criminal Court.

Owen Bermingham, aged 37, of Grosvenor Place, Rathmines, picked up the three 20-year-old women at the Sarah Curran disco in Rathfarnham and invited them to his flat. Bermingham had been discharged from St James’ Hospital after overdosing on valium.

After drinking tea and coffee and smoking hash, the women decided to leave because Bermingham had taken a shower and emerged in his boxer shorts.

It was 2.30am on January 23, 2003, and the women’s ordeal was only just beginning. As they tried to leave, he grabbed one by the hair and held a scissors to her throat. He locked the door and made them all undress. He proceeded to rape the three victims, and forced them to perform oral sex on himself and on each other.

One of the girls then faked a seizure, but he said that if she died he would have to kill the other two. Sgt John McGing said they kept telling him that they wanted to leave but he said they couldn’t until he ejaculated. This never happened.

When one of the girls went to the toilet she found the scissors on a cabinet and they then stood up to him. It was not until 6.30am that the women escaped.

Bermingham offered them a lift home before they ran from the house and flagged a passing garda car. Gardaí arrested Bermingham, who was sexually abused as a child and has one previous conviction for indecent exposure in 1988, at his girlfriend’s house in Ballyboden. Initially he refused to answer questions on legal advice, but later admitted being in the flat and that the three women were present there earlier.

Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed three consecutive sentences of 10 years for each victim, but suspended the final three years of each because there was an intention to plead guilty at an early stage and €5,000 was offered as compensation and accepted by each victim.

“The background of this case is a common feature of people coming before this court. The nature of the offence is very similar to that of people coming before the courts from a good family after a day of binge drinking or taking drugs. The facts of this case are appalling. Not only the attacks on the three victims, but he forced them to perform oral sex on each other and I don’t think a sentence of 10 years for each victim would be in anyway disproportionate.”

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