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Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie
Court

Man who raped 'vulnerable and intoxicated' young woman in Dublin hotel jailed for eight years

In May 2023, Dermot Brett was found guilty by a jury, but he maintains his innocence.

A TIPPERARY MAN has been jailed for eight years for the rape of “a vulnerable and intoxicated” young woman in a Dublin hotel.

The Central Criminal Court heard that Dermot Brett (56) of Sweet Auburn, Carrickbeg, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary pleaded not guilty to one count rape at the InterContinental Hotel, Dublin on 11 January 2019. The woman was a 20-year-old university student at the time.

In May 2023, Brett was found guilty by a jury, but he maintains his innocence. He has one previous conviction for a road traffic matter. The court heard the victim wishes for Brett to be identified while maintaining her anonymity.

The court heard that the woman had been out with friends but was asked to leave a Dublin pub because she was so intoxicated. She attended at a nearby fast-food outlet where she could be seen on CCTV footage in such a drunken state that she is incapable of standing upright.

The woman’s friends hailed a taxi to take her home but the woman got out of the taxi shortly afterwards, unbeknownst to her friends. She then met with Brett and he claimed that he was concerned for her welfare because there were a number of men around who had an interest in her.

The woman had no recollection of meeting Brett or getting out of the taxi. Further CCTV footage showed Brett and the woman arrive at the hotel and the woman was still unable to remain upright at that point.

Sentencing

Passing sentence today, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said Brett claimed he had gone to the woman’s assistance and acted as a good Samaritan. She noted that Brett still maintains his innocence and claims that he and the woman got naked together in the hotel room and “fooled around”.

She noted that he is a married man with children of his own and was considerably older than the woman with more “life experience”.

“He had a number of opportunities to step back from the offending,” Ms Justice Creedon said before she noted that Brett did not bring the woman to a garda station or hail a taxi for her to bring her home when he first met her, despite his claim that he had concerns for her welfare.

“Instead, he brought her back to his hotel room,” the judge said before she added that Brett then “raped this vulnerable and intoxicated woman”.

She noted that he later managed to get the woman home by twice ordering her a taxi from the hotel because the first taxi driver refused to take her due to her level of intoxication.

Ms Justice Creedon noted from the woman’s victim impact statement that the rape has had a profoundly negative impact on her. She has since struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and had to take a year out from college before she returned to complete her studies. Her mental health and her relationships with others and her family has suffered.

The judge said the offence warranted a headline sentence of 10 years before she imposed a sentence of nine years, having taken into account mitigating factors including Brett’s lack of previous convictions.

Ms Justice Creedon suspended the final year of the sentence on strict conditions including that he engage with the Probation Service for a year upon his release and engage in a sex offender’s treatment programme. He was placed on the sex offender’s register.

Victim impact statement

A victim impact statement was read to the court by the prosecuting counsel which said the complainant had “lost a part of herself that night and struggles knowing she will “never get it back”. “I forget who I was before that. It’s a sad way to feel.” She said that “all my independence was taken away from me”.

She said she was “raped by someone she didn’t know”, “didn’t give consent” and was “taken advantage” of while in a “distressed and vulnerable state”. She said knowing the jury “believed my story gave me hope” and that “this person would never hurt any other person again”.

Paul Murray SC, prosecuting, told the court that it was the view of the Director of Public Prosecution that the appropriate sentencing range was seven to 10 years. The DPP highlighted that the accused had taken advantage of the injured party’s intoxicated state which was borne out in the CCTV footage, the proffering of cocaine and the age disparity between the accused and injured party.

Coleman Cody SC, defending, said his client maintains his innocence and that he cannot avail of any credit for a guilty plea. He said regarding the sentence range put forward by the DPP that “it is my view that it should lie in the lowest range”.

Counsel said his client has no relevant prior convictions and has not come to the attention of gardai before or since this incident. He said his client now has to move on and engage with the process but maintains he is not a rapist. Character references from Brett’s family were handed into the court and many of his family members were present to support him.

Cody said “any period of time in prison will be difficult for him and his family”. He said: “This is his first brush with the law and it has brought him in front of the Central Criminal Court which is hugely traumatic to him and his family.”

He asked the court to take into account that what his client has been accused of is “wholly out of character”, and he urged the court to be as lenient as possible and provide an early as possible opportunity to re-enter society.

Additional evidence

Garda Matt Tracey told Paul Murray SC, prosecuting, that the injured party was 20 years old and a student at the time of the assault. On the night in question, the injured party was at a concert and then went on to the George Hotel. The injured party had just begun taking medication and she had not drank alcohol while taking them before.

The court heard that her friends put her in a taxi and they believed they were sending her home after she became quite intoxicated. Unknown to them, she got out of the taxi a short time later.

During his garda interview, Brett told gardaí that he noticed the injured party and went to see if she was okay. He said that she had fallen and he was worried for her safety. He told her he was staying in a nearby hotel and asked if she wanted to go there.

CCTV footage was shown to the court during sentencing. This footage showed a taxi pulling up at the hotel and Brett getting out. The injured party was seen falling from the taxi before she was helped up. A few seconds later, she fell again. She was then helped into the hotel by Brett.

Garda Tracey said the woman has no memory of leaving the pub until she woke up in the hotel room.

When she woke, she said Brett was penetrating her and that he then offered her some cocaine. The injured party believes she was in and out of consciousness.

Brett then called her a taxi to bring her home. The first taxi refused to being her home due to her level of intoxication. A second taxi was flagged down and took her home.

The court heard that when she arrived home her family were concerned as her friends had told her family that they had put her in a taxi earlier. Her father was driving around Dublin looking for her.

The injured party said to her mother when she got home: “Why can’t I go into town without a man trying to have sex with me.” Her mother questioned her more and became concerned. The complainant was no longer wearing her bra or underwear.

Gardaí were called and the injured party was brought to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit and examined.

Garda Tracey said Brett’s hotel room was declared a crime scene, he was questioned by gardaí and told them that he felt he was being “a good Samaritan and taking her away from danger”. He said that no intercourse took place between them.

Garda Tracey agreed with Cody that CCTV footage shown at trial from Camden Street showed his client and the injured party holding hands.

The garda agreed with counsel that Brett remained at the scene and attended Donnybrook Garda Station by appointment on two occasions. On each occasion he was cooperative.