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Carlow man jailed for 18 years for raping woman and causing life-changing injuries

Anthony Cassidy, aged 34, attacked his victim as she was walking to a shop in the early hours of the morning.

Image: Laura Hutton via RollingNews.ie

A CARLOW MAN who raped and seriously assaulted a woman in her 50s leaving her with life-changing injuries from which she is unlikely to recover has been jailed for 18 years.

Anthony Cassidy, aged 34, attacked his victim as she was walking to a shop in the early hours of the morning.

A local garda said extensive CCTV footage, which was shown in court, tracked Cassidy’s movements to and from where he dumped his unconscious victim on the outskirts of the town.

She said there was no footage of the incident, but grainy CCTV imagery showed a male dragging another person to the location where the victim was discovered 12 hours later.

The court heard the victim has no memory of the attack.

Cassidy, a father-of-one with an address at Tinryland, Carlow, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape and assault causing serious harm to the woman on 25 June 2017. He has 34 previous convictions, including soliciting for sex in the UK and two assaults in this country.

Justice Patrick McCarthy said by “anyone’s yard-stick” the offence fell into the most serious category and noted that “in the context of the evidence” Cassidy would have been convicted with “virtual certainty”.

He said it was “obvious” that Cassidy had followed the victim. He concluded therefore that there was “a substantial degree of pre-meditation” after noting that the footage showed a woman “in a helpless situation” being carried or dragged.

“She was simply left there,” Justice McCarthy said after stating that Cassidy made no effort to tell anyone and the attacker “appears to have returned home”.

Forensic evidence

Justice McCarthy said the forensic evidence made it quite clear that the victim had been raped before he added that Cassidy seemed to have had “a straightforward desire to impose gratuitous violence” in addition to violating her.

He said the woman “suffered extreme brain injury” with devastating and long-term consequences after noting that she has mobility difficulties and has isolated herself from society.

“She cannot wash herself, or use the toilet herself and her room for improvement is modest. It is very unlikely she will make a full recovery,” Justice McCarthy continued.

He said from the woman’s victim impact report it is clear that she suffers from nightmares and said she described herself as a broken woman.

The judge quoted from the woman’s victim impact report in which she stated that she intends to “scrape together the little bit of dignity I have left and do my best to enjoy the rest of my life”.

He said that the woman’s daughter had also written a victim impact statement on behalf of the family in which she stated that Anthony Cassidy had ruined all their lives.

“You have broken our lives but we are strong and we won’t let you ruin our lives any more than you have,” the judge said quoting the woman’s statement. He added that the victim’s daughter has been coping as best as she can “with the dreadful situation she has found herself in”.

Justice McCarthy said the “starting point” for sentencing Cassidy was imprisonment for life but he added that he must take into account his plea of guilty and expression of what he considered “genuine remorse” before he sentenced him to 18 years.

Evidence from last month’s sentence hearing

The garda told Conor O’Doherty BL, prosecuting at a sentencing hearing last month, that the victim was found unresponsive with her top pulled up to her collarbone and her trousers partially removed.

Subsequent medical reports showed she had been beaten around the head and neck area, leaving her with serious injuries. The court heard she spent weeks in intensive care in hospital.

The garda said that after his arrest Cassidy initially denied meeting the victim, telling gardaí: “I wouldn’t rape a woman, I’d pay for it in a brothel before I’d do that”.

When DNA evidence linking Cassidy to the victim came through, he then admitted hitting the woman about the head with his fist but said he couldn’t recall any sexual encounter.

In a victim impact statement read out by her daughter in court, the woman described how she was now completely dependent on her family for assistance.

“I need so much help in all areas of my personal care, [Cassidy] has taken my privacy then and now,” she said.

She described the ongoing physical pain, immobility and night terrors following the attack, saying: “Every time I close my eyes my assailant haunts me”.

Beating me nearly to death was bad, but raping me makes me feel used and dirty.

“He left me there to die, he wasn’t sorry, he could have left my body to be found or rang anonymously”, she added.

Addressing Cassidy at the end of her statement, the woman said: “Your act of pure evil stole so much for me but after today I am closing the door on this”.

The woman’s daughter told the court that the first time she heard her mother whispering her name following the attack was “like winning the lotto a thousand times over”.

Addressing Cassidy, she said that her mother has been given “a life sentence of feeling dirty, feeling shame, feeling not good enough”.

Letter of apology

Colman Cody SC, defending, submitted to Justice McCarthy that his client had written a letter of apology in which he “prayed to God” he could go back in time and undo his actions.

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Reading from the letter addressed to the victim, Cassidy said he realised “no words can undo the damage that I caused you and your family”.

He said he prayed someday the victim could forgive him and that she would make a full recovery.

Cody asked the judge to take into consideration his client’s genuine remorse and the fact his early guilty plea had not compounded the victim’s ordeal.

The court heard that Director of Public Prosecutions deemed the assault offence as on the “exceptional upper level” of the scale of seriousness and the case warranted a sentence above 12 and a half years and up to life in prison.

The attack

The garda told Doherty that the victim’s daughter didn’t find out about what happened until gardaí phoned her the next day.

The owner of a premises outside the town was entering the property when he saw a shoe on the right side of the kerb. He then saw a leg and realised this was a body.

The witness saw that the victim had one leg removed from her trousers and her upper clothes pulled up to her collarbone.

He also noticed bruising and blood on her face and immediately phoned gardaí, who were able to establish her identity from her phone and bank cards at the scene.

The woman was taken to the hospital, where she spent weeks in a high dependency unit.
A specialist neurologist has reported that the woman suffered a “multifocal brain injury” which had led to significant problems.

This doctor concluded it was “very unlikely” the woman would make a full recovery and that she would need lifelong assistance and support.

Forensic experts found Cassidy’s DNA on his victim’s body and at the location where she was discovered by a homeowner the following day.

She told Doherty that the victim’s DNA was also found on his underwear and a stain on his jacket cuff.

She said he had been identified as a suspect after she and colleagues viewed CCTV footage from 36 different premises. She told the court he was interviewed on eight occasions after his arrest.

About the author:

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Sonya McLean

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