A prisoner serving a jail term for raping a young woman in a public park was today given a further four months’ imprisonment for attacking a prison officer. Keith Aherne, aged 25, pleaded guilty at Cork District Court today to carrying out the assault on the prison officer in Cork Prison on July 4, 2017.
The prison officer today told Judge Con O’Leary he was punched in the face, suffering a split lip but, more significantly for him, he ended up with two bulging discs at the back of his neck that continue to cause problems.
Judge O’Leary said that even though it was somewhat unrealistic in terms of the overall sentence — as Aherne was already serving 10 years — there had to be some additional penalty imposed for assaulting a prison officer.
In the interests of discouraging Mr Aherne, or other prisoners, from attacking a prison officer, I will impose a four-month sentence consecutive to what he is serving.
Judge O’Leary said that while there would be an understandable strain in any relationship between prisoner and prison officer, there had to be respect shown for the officer. He said that was important so that there would be no further difficulties and that it was in the interests of both prisoners and prison officers.
Michael Quinlan, defending, said the prisoner’s grandmother had died and the jailed man was not allowed to attend the funeral. “He was aggrieved and he became uncooperative. He accepts there was a scuffle and he would have hit the prison officer,” Mr Quinlan said.
Inspector James Hallahan outlined the background to the offence. The incident occurred when a meal was being served to the prisoner in his cell. He pushed his way out of the cell.
When the injured party saw him on the corridor, he told him he should not be out of his cell and should return. A number of officers were returning him to his cell when there was a scuffle inside the cell. Ahern punched the officer directly to the face, causing the injuries.
Aherne, who previously lived at Sawmill Lane, Sawmill St, Cork, was convicted of rape arising out of evidence that he held the victim down and watched while another man raped her. The victim had been drinking with friends in the park and fell asleep.
Her friends left some time later, but the woman was anxious to find her phone and stayed in the park. Two men stayed behind. She was sitting and crying when the attack began.