A taximan who subjected three women to a four-hour rape ordeal in his flat has been jailed for 21 years in consecutive sentences by Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court.
Owen Bermingham (aged 37) of Grosvenor Place, Rathmines picked the three 20-year-old women up at the Sarah Curran disco in Rathfarnham and invited them back to his flat.
When the women decided to leave because they felt uncomfortable, he grabbed one by the hair and held a scissors to her throat. He proceeded to rape the three victims, and forced them to perform oral sex on himself and on each other.
Sergeant John McGing told told Mr Michael O’Higgins SC (with Ms Aileen Donnelly BL), prosecuting, that Bermingham began his attack at about 2.30am and it was not until 6.30am that the victims managed to confiscate the scissors and escape from the flat.
Bermingham offered to drive them home but they refused and flagged down a passing garda patrol car on the street.
Bermingham pleaded guilty to three charges of rape and three of oral rape on January 23, 2003.
Three counts of false imprisonment were also taken into account. He has one previous conviction for indecent exposure in 1988.
Mr Justice 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.
He said: "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."
Sgt McGing said the victims had been drinking in the Submarine Bar in Crumlin and had agreed to meet three men at the Spawell disco later.
When they got there they found it was closed and asked the taxi driver to take them to the Sarah Curran disco in Rathfarnham. That was also closed and the three men they were meeting got into another taxi and left the scene.
The victims then met Bermingham, who had been given a lift to Club Sarah to collect his taxi which had been there for about 24 hours. He had just been discharged from St James’ Hospital after overdosing on valium.
Sgt McGing said Bermingham offered to take them where they wanted to go and when they asked him if anywhere was open he said there wasn’t. He invited them back to his bedsit in Rathmines and they agreed to go.
He produced two cans of Guinness there but they had some tea and coffee instead, as well as some hash. He put a Billy Connolly DVD on for the three women and went to have a shower.
Sgt McGing said Bermigham emerged some time later from the shower in his boxer shorts and made a pass at one of the women.
The three decided to leave because they felt uncomfortable but Bermingham became aggressive and angry. He held a scissors to the throat of one of the victims and said they were going nowhere. He locked the door and made them undress and forced them to perform oral sex on himself and 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. He raped the three women at various points and made them perform further sexual acts on each other.
Sgt McGing said they kept telling him that they wanted to leave but he said they couldn't until he ejaculated. This never happened but when one of the girl's went to go to the toilet she found the scissors on a cabinet and they then stood up to him.
Bermingham offered them a lift home before they ran from the house and flagged a passing garda car. When gardaí called at the house they found he had left but he was later traced to the house of a woman he was in a relationship with in Ballyboden.
He was arrested by gardaí there who found him asleep in one of the bedrooms. 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 Hugh Hartnett SC (with Ms Marie Torrens BL), defending, said his client suffered from serious depressive episodes in the early part of this decade and was also sexually assaulted as a child. He had no history of criminal activity and expressed genuine remorse for what he done.
Mr Hartnett added that Bermingham was not a sexual predator and his one previous conviction was for high jinx in Dublin Airport back in the 1980s.
He had pleaded guilty, accepted full responsibility for his actions and apologised, through his counsel, to the three ladies.