A Bolivian national who orally raped a woman after approaching her on the street has been jailed for six years.
The attack in public by Jose Lacerna Pena, 32, ended when two young men passing by saw the woman was in distress and intervened.
Pena, 32, of no fixed abode but originally from Bolivia, pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to orally raping a woman at Wicklow Street, Dublin 2, on September 26, 2017.
He was convicted by a jury of the sole charge following a trial on December 13, 2019, and was remanded in custody. He does not accept the jury verdict, his lawyers told Mr Justice Paul McDermott.
In his evidence, Sergeant Wayne Donnelly said that the victim had been out in a nightclub with her friends and was making her way across the city centre to meet with more of her friends. CCTV footage from a nearby street showed her at one point stumbling and unsteady.
Sgt Donnelly said Pena approached the woman, began walking alongside her and talking to her. He linked his arm around her and then put his hand on the back of the woman's head, pushed her head down and put his penis in her mouth.
She came up and Pena forced her head down for a second time and again put his penis in her mouth. The two men saw the woman was trying to get away from Pena and intervened and the victim ran off.
Pena remained in the area and was arrested. During interview with gardaí he said he could not remember the incident and claimed he had done nothing wrong.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice McDermott said Pena carried out the offence “brazenly in the most public and humiliating manner” as people were walking by.
He said that rather than offering the woman assistance, Pena “took full advantage of her vulnerable position”.
Mr Justice McDermott said that Pena's account during a Probation Service assessment seemed at odds with the evidence given to the jury that he had no memory of the incident. He said that some considerable work needed to be done with Pena regarding the nature of consent.
He said the offence was mitigated by Pena's lack of previous convictions and he accepted this offence was out of character. He acknowledged Pena will have difficulty serving his sentence far away from his country, family and friends.
Mr Justice McDermott sentenced him to six years imprisonment. He gave credit for time he has already served in custody and said that upon his release consideration should be given for his deportation.
'Trapped in a cycle of fear, sadness, anger and loneliness'
In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court on her behalf, the woman said that after the attack she withdrew from a lot of relationships. She said she was completely unable to communicate her pain and ended up suffering in silence.
The woman said she “felt trapped in a cycle of fear, sadness, anger and loneliness” for two years of her life. She said she wished she had the luxury of not remembering what happened, like the accused.
She said that she had not felt any shame; that the shame of this was not meant for her but for Pena. She said this was something she would carry for the rest of her life and she does not forgive him.
The woman said that she hopes if the accused ever starts a family he never has to hold his daughter the way her father had to hold her. She said she wanted to thank the two men who intervened and will never forget what they did for her.
Pena is a Bolivian national who came to Ireland to study English in June of 2017. He has no previous convictions in this jurisdiction or in his home country.
Sgt Donnelly agreed with Fiona Murphy SC, defending, that her client indicated he did not believe he would have acted in such a way as he “is not that kind of person”.
He agreed that Pena is alone in this jurisdiction and his family are on the other side of the world. She said he comes from a good family and his father is a colonel in the Bolivian military.
Ms Murphy said her client does not accept the verdict of the jury.
She said there is everything to suggest that it was a one-off incident that is totally out of character.
She asked the court to be as lenient as possible.