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Man who targeted women walking alone loses appeal against conviction

The man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, had been convicted of offences for attacks on three women.

Image: Laura Hutton via RollingNews.ie

A SERIAL SEX attacker who targeted random women walking alone in the early hours of the morning has lost an appeal against his conviction.

In a judgment delivered this morning, the three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed all grounds, including a complaint that the offender was unlawfully detained by gardaí following the final attack in which he grabbed a woman from behind while brandishing a knife.

The 36-year-old, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was convicted of offences for attacks on three women in the Clondalkin area of Dublin on 11 September 2011, 3 September 2015 and 16 May 2016.

He was convicted of false imprisonment, sexual assault and assault causing harm in relation to the first two offences.

His third victim, who was attacked in a laneway in broad daylight as she walked to a Luas stop on her way to work, struggled free and raised the alarm. She suffered cuts to her hand that required surgery when she grabbed a knife the man was holding.

He was convicted of false imprisonment and assault causing harm in relation to that offence.

Following the final attack, witnesses identified a suspect van which gardaí linked to the man.

His DNA was subsequently matched to DNA found under the nails of one of his victims and on semen found on the clothes of another.

Inside his van, gardaí found duct tape and cable ties. Similar items were used on his second victim and were found near to where the third assault occurred.

He was convicted on all counts by unanimous jury verdicts and jailed for a total of 18 years and six months by Judge Pauline Codd at the Circuit Criminal Court in May 2018.

Judge Codd said the attacks were “brutal and primal” and described him as a “dangerous man”.

She said he had shown no remorse and described the attacks as “premeditated” and noted as aggravating factors his use of a leather belt, a hunting knife, duct tape and cable ties.

Following his release, he will be subject to a nine-year supervision period and will have to obey a curfew, notify gardaí of his residence and keep a log of all journeys he takes.

Appeal hearing

During an appeal hearing last year, Ms Orla Crowe SC for the appellant said her client should have been tried separately for the offences relating to the first assault.

She also claimed that there had been a breach of the 1987 Treatment of Persons in Custody Regulations because when her client was arrested and taken to Clondalkin Garda Station, gardaí did not have a custody record book to record his detention.

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Counsel further argued that an extension of his detention was unlawful.

Delivering judgement yesterday, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly rejected all grounds of appeal.

She said that joining the offences in a single trial helped to establish for the jury a system used by the offender of targeting small women in the Clondalkin area with a “stealthy approach from behind” and the application of force to their necks.

She added: “Common sense could only dictate that the rules of evidence permit each of the offences being tried together given the clearly similar characteristics.”

She said this case provides “a textbook example of how the rules of evidence permit this type of alleged serial offending to be joined together on an indictment”.

Ms Justice Donnelly, sitting with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Pat McCarthy, dismissed the complaints regarding the custody regulations, saying that the temporary absence of the record book did not give rise to any prejudice, there was no unreasonable delay and while it might be a breach of regulations, there was no illegality.

The court further dismissed the detention argument, saying the detention was lawful.

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Eoin Reynolds

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