Albanian refugee jailed over rape offence

An Albanian refugee has been jailed for eight years by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill at the Central Criminal Court for raping a Dublin woman.

An Albanian refugee has been jailed for eight years by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill at the Central Criminal Court for raping a Dublin woman.

Astrit Berisha (38), oroginally from a rural town in Kosovo, with an Irish address at Summerhill Parade, Dublin 1 was convicted by a jury on February 11 2003 of four counts of rape, one count of aggravated sexual assault and one of sexual assaulting a woman on August 28 and 29, 2000.

He was found not guilty to falsely imprisoning the woman who had just started a relationship with his friend.

Mr Justice O'Neill described Berisha's offences as "most heinous crimes" calculated to cause great fear in his victim.

He said he was taking into account as a mitigating factor the difficulty Berisha would have in prison as a foreigner without a ready grasp of the English language.

Mr Justice O'Neill said he was not giving much weight to the fact that Berisha might loose his asylum status because of the imprisonment. "Conditions in your native country has improved since," he added.

Berisha arrived in Ireland as an asylum seeker in 1999 and was granted refuge in 2000.

The 27-year-old victim told the court that one of the worst shocks for her had come after the rape when she discovered Berisha suffered from Hepatitis B.

"It was like being kicked in the mouth a second time. I was convinced I had the disease. It was very stressful. Results of the blood test was constantly on my mind and my work suffered. I would often ring hospitals just to talk to them about the effects of Heptatitis B."

She said she suffered from recurrent nightmares about the rape and expereinced powerful flasbacks that came "anywhere, anytime." She would wake up from nightmares convinced that he was outside her window or her door.

She also told Justice O'Neill that she was still receiving counselling and until the end of the trial, had relied heavily on sleeping pills to get a night's sleep.

Her parents and her family as a whole had suffered devastating effects because of the rape and she herself has become more introverted and less trusting of people as a consequence.

"The rape haunts me everyday, it's in my mind, in my thoughts - constantly."

The court heard during the 7-day trial in February that Berisha and his friend had pretended to be Italians, Berisha giving his name as "Georgio" and the second man as "Alberto" when they met the 27-year-old victim in a nightclub.

She said she went home with him afterwards. They did not have sexual intercourse that night but exchanged telephone numbers and met him several times over the next two weeks. She stayed in his city centre flat a few times and they developed a sexual relationship.

She went to meet him one Saturday night with one of her friends and found "Alberto" was accompanied by Berisha. She said "Alberto" was "in a bad mood" so she left the club.

She met "Alberto" again soon afterwards, in the company of Berisha, and they made up. He rang her the following night and asked her to come over to his flat.

The woman said she had thought "Alberto" was alone but when she entered the flat Berisha was there drinking and playing cards. She thought he would soon leave but he stayed drinking with "Alberto". At one point, Berisha told her he wanted an attractive woman "like her".

It was suggested they go to Berisha's flat which was two doors down the street and watch a video. She thought she would go and then return with "Alberto" to his flat but when the video was over they started playing music and dancing.

The two men were also pretending they were gay and making sexual references while dancing.

She was sitting in a chair but they kept urging her to dance so she decided she would dance for a while and then leave. However Berisha then said they should all go to bed and the two men went into the bedroom.

She followed them in because she was trying to persuade "Alberto" to leave and she was afraid to go outside on her own at that time of night in the city centre. She was beginning to feel wary at this time and "stupid" for being in the flat with the men.

The woman said she went into the bathroom and when she came out the men had removed some of their clothing. They told her to sit on the bed beside them and "Alberto" said "Look at her breasts Georgio".

They told her to take off her top but she refused. "Alberto" tried to pull it up saying "no sex, don't worry" but she put her hands down and told him to stop.

They both grabbed her then and pulled off the top. They then pinned her arms behind her and began roughly feeling her breasts, scratching and biting them.

She managed to get off the bed but Berisha grabbed her and threw her back in the middle of the bed, telling her "you are going to have sex now". He removed her lower clothes and she pleaded with "Alberto" to stop him but he left the room.

Berisha put her legs on his shoulders and put his weight on her. He was fumbling with his penis so she asked him if he was wearing a condom. He got very angry and said "You Irish prostitute, I'll kill you". He then raped her.

Afterwards, he went to the bathroom and got some tissues and threw them at her. She was bleeding quite heavily as she had her period so he told her to clean up the blood. He then left the room.

The woman said she was in shock and sitting on the bed. "Alberto" came back in and told her not to contact the gardai as Berisha would kill her and also that she was not to contact him again. He then left the flat.

Berisha came back into the room, put the bedcover over her and got in beside her. He held her tightly and told her she was to stay with him that night.

The woman said she did not sleep that night but as it got light around 6am, Berisha woke up. She said she had to go to work and tried to get out of bed but he rolled on top of her and made her take his penis in her mouth.

He was very angry and told her she had to give him oral sex. When he ejaculated in her mouth , she tried to move away but he would not let her and made her swallow it.

The woman again said she had to go to work and slowly got out of bed. She got dressed and went to the kitchen. Berisha followed her out and put his arms around her. He told her they should get married and then walked her down to the door.

The woman said she went home and called her friend. She went into work and told her supervisor she had been mugged as she was in a very emotional state. She also rang her sister who told her to ring the Rape Crisis Centre. She also went to the gardai that night.

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