Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Sunday 11 June 2023 Dublin: 14°C
Alamy Stock Photo
# Courts
Man who sexually assaulted a woman 12 days into a suspended sentence is jailed
Liam Vickers (24) was previously given a two-year suspended sentence in January 2021 after pleading guilty to assault.

A MAN WHO sexually assaulted a woman out running 12 days into a suspended sentence for attacking another woman has been jailed for three years consecutive to a two-year reactivated sentence.

Liam Vickers (24) was previously given a two-year suspended sentence from Judge Elma Sheahan in January 2021 after he pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to a victim working as an escort in an apartment in Dublin city centre in the early hours of 30 September 2017.

Vickers is currently serving that two year sentence which was reactivated in March and the new three year sentence for assaulting the woman out running in February 2021 will be consecutive to it.

Vickers’ father is currently serving a life sentence after he pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Vickers’ mother in 2009.

Vickers had been placed on a bond on 22 January 2021 at the sentencing in relation to the earlier offence by the judge to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years.

At a sentence hearing before Judge Sheahan last month, Detective Garda Niall Gibs told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that on 3 February 2021, a 21-year-old woman was out running near her family home when she became unnerved by a man in the park.

She left the park, but she was pushed against the park railings by the man. She could hear him moaning in her ear before he grabbed her vagina. She described him as smelling of alcohol.

She began screaming and managed to run off, but didn’t get “a proper look” at her attacker, Gibbs said. Vickers was later identified after gardaí canvassed the local area and local residents for CCTV footage.

Vickers, who is currently homeless, was living nearby at the time. He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexual assault of the woman in a Dublin suburb.

Today Judge Sheahan commended the investigating gardai on the painstaking detective work that went into identifying Vickers.

She said Vickers had received the leniency of the court previously and proved himself incapable of taking that opportunity. She said a report at that hearing suggested his risk of reoffending was low.

She noted that a lot of the matters raised in mitigation had also been advanced and taken in consideration in the imposition of the previous suspended sentence. She said they would be taken into consideration again, but the weight she could attach to them has been comprised and lessened.

She took into account mitigation including his traumatic childhood, his co-operation on arrest, his supportive family, the difficulty of serving a prison sentence at this time and his expressed desire to deal with his psychological challenges and rehabilitate.

Taking all matters into consideration, including the principles of totality and proportionality, Judge Sheahan imposed a three year sentence which will run consecutive to his current two year term.

CCTV footage was played for the court and Gibs pointed out the woman being followed by Vickers as she came into the park. He said at one point the man almost seems to be trying to run to catch up with the woman. The incident itself was not clearly captured on CCTV footage.

Gardaí later contacted a woman who was captured on CCTV footage picking Vickers up in her car after the attack. She made a statement to the gardaí and helped to identify Vickers.

Vickers was arrested and admitted that he saw the victim, followed her through the park and grabbed her. He said he regretted it and hoped it didn’t affect her too much.

Gibs said when Vickers was asked what was his intention were when he grabbed the woman, he replied: “To be honest, I am not too sure”. He said once she screamed, he let her go.

“I don’t know what was going through my head,” Vickers said but admitted that “obviously it has to be sexual”.

A victim impact statement from the woman said she was out of work for eight weeks following the assault because she had such difficulty sleeping.

“I couldn’t go to sleep without feeling the presence of someone behind me or grabbing me,” the woman continued.

She said she didn’t feel safe in her house or her local area. She said through counselling she eventually established a better sleeping routine and managed to get back to herself.

“It had an impact on everything in my life. I struggled to be alone, but then pushed my partner away. I feel like I am restricted as to how I live my day-to-day life,” the woman said.

Dean Kelly SC, defending, said his client had an extremely difficult childhood. His former partner wrote a letter for the court describing him as a devoted father and said she had never suffered any type of abuse at his hands. His sister was also in court to support him.

Additional evidence

At the hearing last month, Kelly told Judge Sheahan that there are “grave concerns” for his client “going forward, not only for him but others too”.

“One can’t be but extremely worried,” counsel said before he added that Vickers knows that “he needs to be fixed and these issues need to be addressed”.

Gibs agreed with Kelly that although Vickers told gardaí in interview that he doesn’t know what caused him to attack the woman last February, he acknowledged that it was obviously sexually motivated.

Counsel said his client wanted to take up opportunities offered to him while in custody and absolutely recognises that he needs help.

At the previous sentence hearing in relation to the September 2017 assault, the court heard that the victim in that case was working an escort when she got a call from Vickers to see if she was available.

After she brought Vickers into her bedroom he took out a large knife and tried to stab her in the face. She blocked the attack and was wounded in her arm and her cheek.

Vickers pointed the knife at her and asked for free sex, which she refused. Her roommate attempted to intervene and was also threatened with the knife.

He told the victim to sit on the bed and delete his phone number and texts from her mobile phone.

She deleted his texts and he walked calmly from the room, but she did not delete her call history and saved his phone number.

During an interview with gardaí, Vickers said that he had been drinking in a park earlier that day and that he had consumed half a litre of vodka as well as taking cocaine and sleeping pills. He said he found the knife in the park and took it with him because he was paranoid about “being robbed”.

In a victim impact statement, which was read out in court, the woman said she was attacked a second time with a knife after this incident and that she has lost her ability to trust people.

At the time of that hearing Vickers he had two previous convictions for driving while holding a mobile phone and failure to appear.

Sonya McLean and Fiona Ferguson