Woman given community service for attacking a man that she wrongly believed was a rapist

The victim checked himself out of hospital after the attack and died by suicide a week later

A WOMAN WHO assaulted a homeless man because she wrongly believed he had raped someone she knew has been asked to carry out community service in lieu of a prison sentence.

Zara McCabe (34) of Brookview Drive, Tallaght, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm on Fleet Street, Dublin 2 on 4 November 2020.

She has 21 previous convictions including assault, threats, intoxication in a public place and road traffic offences.

The court heard that there was no medical report in relation to the victim, as although he was taken to hospital by ambulance, he didn’t sign a consent form to release his medical report and discharged himself the following day.

The victim died by suicide a week later.

It was accepted that McCabe, a mother of five, was highly intoxicated and in poor mental health on the night and wrongly believed that the man had raped a woman she knew.

McCabe later said that she went through the victim’s pockets after the assault because she was trying to find his phone to take a photo of him to show the woman.

Passing sentence this week, Judge Martin Nolan ordered McCabe to carry out 150 hours community service in lieu of a two-year prison term.

“You are getting a considerable chance,” Judge Nolan told McCabe.

“What you did on the night was disgraceful to this poor man. If you re-offend you will go to jail, simple as that. It was totally wrong. He had a tough enough life without you attacking him,” the judge said.

Judge Nolan said it was not clear what injuries the man sustained but it seems he had cuts to his body.

“He was taken to hospital and didn’t stay long. This poor man had an unfortunate life and an unfortunate end,” the judge said.

He said McCabe had wrongly thought this man had raped the woman which he said was “more based on her condition than the objective facts of the situation”, before he acknowledged that she was drunk and had probably taken drugs.

He acknowledged that she had a record of conviction and long-standing alcohol and addictive problems. He said McCabe had a “very unfortunate family life” before he noted that her children are in care and she has been subjected to other forms of abuse over the years.

Judge Nolan acknowledged that McCabe is “on an upward curve at the moment” and has secured work in a warehouse since last November.

Garda Jordan Kennedy told Fiona Crawford BL, prosecuting, that Gardaí were called to the scene after a support worker for the city centre housing facility the victim was staying in saw that he was being assaulted by McCabe and two men.

Witnesses later told Gardaí that they could see the woman sticking something into the victim and “a fella kicking him in the head”.

The group were described as violent and the woman as “the main aggressor”.

Gda Kennedy said when officers arrived the two men walked away, but the woman went through the victim’s pockets and continually called him a rapist.

It was noted that the victim was bloody and disorientated.

McCabe was arrested and told Gardaí that she had kicked the man to death.

“I had a blade. I would have killed him. He is a rapist. These two lads helped me.”

Gda Kennedy said Gardaí secured CCTV footage that captured the assault and confirmed that it lasted 30 minutes.

He said that in interviews McCabe told Gardaí that she hoped she had killed the man.

Gda Kennedy agreed with Aoife O’Leary BL, defending, that her client was homeless at the time and was highly intoxicated on the night. She was not wearing any shoes.

He accepted that although witnesses say they saw McCabe sticking something into the victim, none of his injuries were consistent with such an attack.

His injuries, though they could not be confirmed by way of a medical report, included bruises and scrapes.

Gda Kennedy agreed that McCabe was remorseful when she was shown the CCTV footage, but continued to maintain that she attacked him for a reason.

She described herself as “horrible, disgusting, a scumbag and a failure” during garda interview and Gda Kennedy accepted that her mental health was very poor at the time.