The man had earlier pleaded guilty to the single count of sexual assault on August 14, 2011.
The now 22-year-old woman, still traumatised by the events, wept openly as the suspended sentence was handed down. She was comforted by her mother.
The sentencing hearing yesterday was told how the accused man, Martin Quigley, now aged 48, of Ballygarron, Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford, had arrived in the Kerry tourist town in connection with business and had spent the day drinking in a bar attached to a hotel. The injured party had been out on a day excursion to view the scenery and had returned to the B&B, where the accused asked her to join him in bed.
“When she refused to do so, he started to drag her into the spare room, but she got away,” Judge Carroll Moran read from his notes of evidence given by Det Garda Chris Manton.
The woman changed into her pyjamas and the man tried a second time and this time he dragged her into a bedroom and forced her onto a bed. He touched her vagina and breasts, outside her clothes, but she succeeded in getting away and alerted four men outside the B&B. They called a taxi and gardaí were also alerted. Garda scenes-of-crime examiners found drag marks across the floor of the B&B sitting room consistent with the young woman’s complaint.
The man had 12 previous convictions, including two for assault and one for burglary, but none for sexual assault, Judge Moran said. “The balance of his convictions appear to indicate he has a drink problem and he accepts this,” added the judge.
However, Judge Moran said the accused’s actions were “completely unacceptable” and had “a hugely traumatic effect” on the woman, adding she was entitled to be in the B&B without interference.
However, while there was a degree of violence involved, all of the touching was outside her clothes, he said.
Judge Moran said he took into account the early admission by the man and the guilty plea to the sex assault charge which secured the conviction and spared the victim from going through a trial. He had also had adverse publicity which had an adverse effect on him and on his business. Judge Moran gave Quigley two years, suspended for two years on condition he does not commit any type of offence.
Quigley was also placed on the sex offender’s registrar for a period of five years.
Clíona Saidléar of Rape Crisis Network Ireland said she was disappointed that at least a portion of the sentence was not activated.
“This is a crime, a criminal offence, and we would expect to see a punishment that fits the crime,” said Ms Saidléar. “That is important for the survivor and also for the message it sends out that this is a very serious crime.”