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Denis O'Donovan pleaded not guilty to five criminal offences at his trial last April.
Courts

'Dangerous sexual predator' jailed for seven years after kidnapping and assaulting a woman

Denis O’Donovan had the final six months of his sentence suspended.

“DANGEROUS SEXUAL PREDATOR” Denis O’Donovan was today jailed for seven years with the final six months suspended after being convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman.

O’Donovan, (38), a father of one, from Ballyryan, Donohill, Co Tipperary, had pleaded not guilty to five criminal offences at his trial last April.

However a jury found him guilty of four offences, including one count of false imprisonment, two counts of sexual assault, one count of assault causing harm.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on one alleged sexual assault.

Limerick Circuit Criminal Court heard O’Donovan drove to the woman’s house, situated in an isolated rural area of Co Limerick, on the night of 17 January 2020 and knocked on the front door of her property.

When the woman opened the door there was nobody there but when she went to investigate the presence of a car with it’s engine running and its headlights on in the front yard, O’Donovan “pulled” her into the car.

O’Donovan drove himself and the woman at speed to an isolated lay-by where he sexually assaulted her while choking her in his car. O’Donovan “put his arm around her (the woman’s) throat and flung her between two seats, she was terrified,” Judge Dermot Sheahan said.

“She was crying and shouting and praying to god that he (O’Donovan) would stop, she said she thought she was going to die.”

Judge Sheehan said O’Donovan used “significant violence” during the sexual attack on the woman.

“He clearly impeded the victim during the sexual assaults, which occurred while he was choking the victim. The victim was terrified and that trauma has stayed with her.”

The judge said O’Donovan “restrained and choked” the victim while sexually assaulting her. The attacks were “degrading and humiliating” for the victim, as O’Donovan “used force to restrain her as he choked her and manhandled her”.

“Terrified”, the woman eventually made her escape when O’Donovan was “repositioning himself” in the car during the attack.

The victim suffered bruising to her throat and private parts in the attacks as well as cuts and scars when she jumped into a ditch and hid from O’Donovan. After the coast was clear, the woman made her way home and alerted the emergency services who quickly responded.

Prosecuting barrister Lily Buckley BL, said O’Donovan kept the victim in his car “against her will”, pulled down her underwear and “repeatedly” sexually assaulted her.

After his arrest, during Garda questioning, O’Donovan immediately placed himself at the woman’s house, but wrongly claimed he was there to drop off cannabis.

He was eventually charged after forensic tests resulted in his DNA being found in salvia discharge found on clothing worn by the woman on the night.

DNA results provided in court from tests conducted by Forensic Science Ireland had “strongly supported” the prosecution’s case.

O’Donovan, who has an addiction to alcohol, had consumed five pints of stout and four cans of cider prior to calling to the woman’s home.

Reading a victim impact statement to the court, the woman said it had been an “absolutely terrifying, traumatising, degrading and disgusting” ordeal.

“I was dragged into his car, driven at speed down the road, and had to try to escape by jumping out of a moving car, only for him to grab me with both hands, choking me violently, pinning me down with one hand on my throat while he sexually assaulted me in a disgusting, degrading way.”

“No words can ever fully describe the absolute terror of being choked, and believing I was going to die.”

“After the attack I couldn’t eat or sleep, I used to stay awake at night listening for fear of him returning.”

“A year after the attack, I couldn’t cope with the trauma anymore. I was suicidal and was going to kill myself, I had it all planned, I had a breakdown and ended up in hospital, spending weeks in a secure mental health unit.”

“I have suffered panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares since the attack on an almost daily basis, and I became confined to home because the fear and panic was overwhelming.”

“I changed from being a happy confident person who loved the outdoors, hiking and walking to not being able to leave my house for years. has taken everything I enjoyed about life away from me.”

“After all of this, for him to put me through a trial which was so daunting, as I had never been to court in my life before all of this, to have to sit and listen to his outrageous and disgusting lies, felt like another attack.”

“He has taken years of my life that I will never get back. He may be going to jail, but I feel like I’ve been in jail the last four years. The physical injuries from that night have healed, but the trauma will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“It has been an incredibly difficult and dark time in my life, but today I am a stronger person for surviving everything he (O’Donovan) has done to me and I refuse to let him destroy the rest of my life.”

The judge lifted reporting restrictions in respect of O’Donovan on 17 May last, after the woman said she wanted people to know his name and what he had done.

“He is a dangerous sexual predator and everyone should know his name,” the woman told the judge.

O’Donovan, who had 39 previous convictions, was on bail at the time for aggravated burglary and criminal damage in which he smashed his way into another woman’s house using an “axe” and chased her upstairs, but left the house without harming the woman as she was not the intended target, and for which he later received a three year suspended sentence.

Judge Sheehan said O’Donovan had been hugely impacted by the death of his mother when he was four years old, and his family were still prepared to support him when he gets out of prison.

O’Donovan who had 39 previous convictions mostly committed after consuming alcohol. After passing sentence today on O’Donovan, Judge Sheahan said he must attend an alcohol rehab course to deal with an addiction to alcohol.

The judge said he was not imposing a post release supervision order. He placed O’Donovan on a “sex offenders register” for an indefinite period.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800-77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/ or visit Rape Crisis Help.

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