A teenager has spoken of the anxiety and despair caused to her when she was asked to engage in a sex act after she was picked up by a 42-year-old man while hitch hiking two years ago.
Petras Petrikauskas of Newbridge Park, Skibbereen, Co Cork pleaded guilty to offensive conduct of a sexual nature arising out of the offence in West Cork on March 5 2018.
He was jailed for nine months at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday. The court heard he was previously convicted for masturbating in the presence of teenage girls.
The victim in the case has waived her right to anonymity to discuss the case.
In an interview on the Neil Prendeville Show, on Cork's Red FM, the victim said she had been "living in fear" since the incident.
"Emotionally this has been one of the hardest things I have gone through. I am constantly living in fear."
She has hitch hiked for many years.
"I have been hitch hiking around my local area for years because I have no other way to get around. That night I saw him going around the roundabout and then doubling back to pick me up.
"And then he dropped me off and went away for about ten minutes and came back and was very insistent that I get back in to the car.
"He wasn't doing anything that evening and would drop me where I needed to be going.
"And when I got back in to the car that is when the incident took place. It was about 6.30pm or 7pm. It was just getting dark. He basically demanded that I give him a hand job.
"The whole time in the car I felt very uncomfortable. He wouldn't take his eyes off me. Smarmy smile on his face. It was terrifying."
She said astonishingly Petrikauskas warned her that hitch hiking wasn't safe and that something could happen to her.
Yet she says that it was Petrikauskas himself who ended up putting her through all the mental anguish of recent years.
"I had to fumble with him and jump out of the car while it was still moving and run for my life to the closest house with lights on.
I rang my Mum and she was brilliant but it terrified her because she thought she would never see me again. She was terrified he was going to pick me up again.
She said her fight or flight instinct kicked in the car. She went straight to the gardaí with her complaint.
She paid tribute to the gardaí for their assistance since the traumatic incident. At one point she thought she wouldn't be able to get through the courts process.
"At the time I was in the last year of my school and it effected that. I used to hitch hike home from school or hitch to school if I got up late.
"My family has no means of transport. My mum has a heart condition and can't drive. We have always hitch hiked to get around.
Now I don't want to go out on my own. I have a slight fear of older men. I have nightmares. It has effected my mental health.
Meanwhile, whilst sentencing Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said it was essential that people be protected even when they are hitch-hiking.
"I come from an older generation when hitch-hiking was much more common than it is now. It is still an innocent and legitimate way to get about and it has to be protected.”
The accused was previously convicted under the Public Order Act for three previous incidents where he masturbated in the presence of teenage girls.
In one incident he was at a nearby picnic table when the two girls saw him engaged in this act.
In another, it happened when he gave them a lift. All three of those incidents dated back to 2013.
The Lithuanian national paid €1,200 compensation and expressed remorse for his behaviour.
The judge imposed an 18-month sentence with the last nine months of it suspended.