Tipperary man gets 15 years for rape

A Tipperary man has been jailed for 15 years for raping a 75-year-old widow after he broke into her house.

A Tipperary man has been jailed for 15 years for raping a 75-year-old widow after he broke into her house.

Joseph Cummins (aged 20), of St Joseph's Park, Nenagh was found guilty in January by a jury at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Limerick of raping and anally raping the woman on May 22, 2005.

He was also convicted of burglary of her home and was found not guilty by direction of the court of threatening to kill her on the same occasion.

Mr Justice Paul Carney was told by the victim's daughter and granddaughter that when he was being led out in Limerick after his conviction, Cummins turned to them saying: "This is not over yet."

They said he then thumped the jury box as he passed it while prison officers used an envelope to shield his eyes to stop him staring at the victim and her family.

Mr Justice Carney said this threat by Cummins led him to consider imposing a life sentence and he noted that the Court of Criminal Appeal had recently shown a greater inclination to uphold a discretionary life sentence and had also upheld a number he had imposed.

He said that he wouldn't impose a life sentence on Cummins in view of his age as that could mean he could find himself serving 55 years or more. He was reluctant to expose Cummins to the risk of having to serve 55 years but by coupling his sentence with post-release supervision it would keep him under control for 25 years.

Mr Justice Carney imposed two concurrent terms of 15 year each for rape and anal rape, and five years for burglary. The 15 year terms are to start at the expiration of a current 18 months sentence Cummins is serving. He declared Cummins a sex offender and ordered that he undergo 10 years post-release supervision.

The victim said in her impact statement that she had moved home after being raped and brought the armchair in which she had been attacked with her to her new house where she set fire to it and "wished the person who attacked her was in it".

She also said that her family only heard the full details for the first time of his attack on her at his trial. Her life had been turned upside down since Cummins raped her she and she had been getting counselling.

She said she had been independent while living alone and liked going down the town meeting friends but she now lived in fear "every minute of every day" that he would break in again to attack her.

She also revealed she had considered committing suicide with sleeping tablets prescribed for her.

Mr Justice Carney said it was not his normal practice to comment on garda investigations but he would this time because Cummins' outrageous crime was "cracked by old-fashioned bobby-on-the-beat" police work.

He said Garda Paul O'Driscoll had observed Cummins on the street and made a mental note of his clothing. When the crime was reported, Superintendent Catherine Keogh, though not on duty at the time, immediately got a search warrant and recovered these clothes. She then personally led the investigation.

Superintendent Keogh told Mr Brendan Grehan SC (with Ms Martina Baxter BL), prosecuting, that forensic analysis of Cummins' clothing revealed DNA on his shirt and boxer shirts which matched DNA from the victim. The chance of the DNA recovered from his underpants being from anyone else was 600 million to one.

Cummins declined to take part in a formal ID parade and the victim identified him in informal ID parade at the garda station. He exercised his right to silence after arrest but agreed that the clothes recovered were his.

Cummins had 60 previous convictions and was on temporary release when he committed this crime. Most of his previous convictions involved Road Traffic Act offences and also included burglary and criminal damage.

Mr Timothy O'Leary SC, defending, said Cummins came from a disadvantaged background and was diagnosed in childhood as suffering from attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

He had come to the attention of the gardaí at an early stage and most of his previous convictions involved cars but he had none before this for crimes of a sexual nature.

Mr O'Leary said Cummins was 18 years old at the time of the offence and while the court might take "a dim and serious view" of the crimes he asked that Cummins be left with some light at the end of the tunnel.

Mr Justice Carney said Cummins had "an appalling record" but had an absolute right to contest his trial and could not be penalised for that but by so doing he forfeited a right to the consideration given to people who pleaded at an early stage.

He said he sympathised with Cummins on his dysfunctional background and the disorder he suffered from but couldn't find any factors in his favour.

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