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'I’ve been kidnapped. I’m going to be killed': A phone call no father ever wants to receive

Mr Justice White said there is a collective sense of shame that somebody visiting Ireland had suffered in such a vile way.
The most horrific crimes involving the degradation of an innocent person. 
A collective sense of shame that somebody visiting Ireland had suffered in such a vile way. 

Those are the words used by Mr Justice White when sentencing Eoin Berkley to 14 years in prison for the abduction and rape of a teenager. 

Eoin Berkley of Hampton Wood Way, Finglas, Dublin admitted raping the girl at the Irish Glass Bottle Company site, Pigeon House Road on three occasions between 15 and 16 July 2017.

The Spanish student, like so many others that travel to Ireland to learn English during the summer, was staying with a host family in Dublin during her stay.

Described to the court as “naive and shy” the 18-year-old was just like any other tourist in the capital, taking in the sights on a day out in the city centre on the Saturday afternoon when she met Berkley. 

Appearing friendly and approachable, he told her he lived on the beach and invited her to see where he lived.

She agreed and walked with him to a derelict site near Sandymount where he had a number of tents pitched.

What happened afterwards is the stuff of nightmares for both the victim and any parent that sends their child abroad to experience a new country and to learn another language. 

The 21-hour ordeal involved her first being pushed to the ground and having her hands tied behind her back with a dog leash.

She told him he was hurting her but he laughed and told her she was stupid and that he had “done this before”.

When she attempted to leave the tent, Berkley dragged her back in and told her he had previously killed six people and was going to kill her.

He repeatedly tried to strangle her and at one point he picked up a small saw and told her that if she didn’t stop struggling he would cut her hands off.

She begged him to kill her in the least painful way possible and he gave her some tablets and he then put some black gloves on. She took the tablets and fell down and he began abusing her.

Over the hours that followed Berkley raped the woman on three separate occasions. On the Sunday he told her he wasn’t going to kill her until Monday.

He told her that if she tried to run away he would throw a rock at her head. He told her that he’d stopped having feelings about people since the age of ten and said he had cut the paws off household pets.

After hours of being brutally abused, the teenage managed to escaped when Berkley took her down to the beach and he fell asleep.

She rang her father on the phone. 

“I’ve being (sic) kidnapped. I’m going to be killed,” she told him. 

Her father told the court this was the worst phone call a father could ever get.

As if the mental scarring of such a horrific crime is not enough, the woman said for months after the rape she had to take medication in case of infections.

She constantly thinks about how she thought she was going to be killed during the attack and she is afraid to sleep at night now.  

According to the victim impact statement, she said she thinks about what happened every day.

“I was afraid, I did not want to be afraid,” she said. 

shutterstock_1100315117 Shutterstock / Sean Wandzilak Shutterstock / Sean Wandzilak / Sean Wandzilak

In handing down his sentence, the judge said the victim had been violated in a horrendous way, adding that there was a collective sense of shame that somebody visiting Ireland had suffered in such a vile way. 

He said the ordeal she went through involved excessive cruelty, degradation and demeaning behaviour. 

The judge said that the victim was so terrorised that she was effectively a prisoner for 21 hours. Throughout the attack she showed compassion for others, he said, noting that one reason she didn’t call out for help was she was afraid she would put strangers in danger.

Berkley’s history in care and prison

Berkley’s 25 previous convictions include unlawful possession of knives and a realistic firearm and threatening and abusive behaviour.

This included a conviction in June of last year for being caught walking around with a realistic looking imitation AK-47 rifle, for which he received a two and a half year sentence. 

Gardaí had received multiple calls about a male walking around near Dublin Airport and Santry with what looked like a firearm.

Detective Garda Michael Harkin told the court last year the imitation Kalashnikov rifle Berkeley had in his possession was “the most realistic” of its kind his colleagues had ever seen.

At the time, the court was told Berkley only had convictions relating to drug offences and public order breaches, he had no secondary school education and had speech and language issues when he was younger.

The court also noted that Berkley did not present in court expressing any desire for rehabilitation, just that the case be finalised. 

Berkley’s defence counsel in the rape trial, Michael Bowman SC, told the court that his client went into foster care at the age of four as his mother had psychological problems which were compounded by alcohol.

At the age of 14 his foster care situation broke down because of his own behavioural difficulties and he was institutionalised at Ballydowd, a facility for “unruly youths”.

Counsel said that after leaving Ballydowd he had lived in flux mostly in homelessness, often coming to garda attention in situations which caused concerns around his mental health.

A month before the kidnap and rape a garda inspector in the Dublin city area directed his detention under the Mental Health Act. He was seen by a doctor who deemed him fit to be released.

Two days later Berkley’s brother rang a garda station and said Berkley needed to be detained under the Act. Gardaí told him there was no basis for his detention and advised that Berkley seek medical care.

Mr Justice White said he had to take into account the mitigating factors outlined to the court. He said Berkley was taken into care at around 15 months old and placed into various care settings. He was kicked out of school at the age of 12 for “extreme violence” and never went back or had a job.

In a report handed into court the doctor found Berkley had a significantly compromised development and suffered from a severe personality disorder.

Questions will no doubt now be asked as to what could have been done to prevent such a horrendous crime, and whether more could have been done when red flags about Berkley’s mental health issues were flagged with the authorities. 

The judge said he was not optimistic about the prospects of rehabilitation.

He said it was unfortunate that such a young person was going to prison for so long but said Berkley had to bear total personal responsibility for that as these were the “most horrific” crimes involving the degradation of an innocent person.

Declan Brennan and Christina Finn
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