February 2009

Serial sex offender gets life for Nenagh rape

A serial sex offender who raped a woman in the ladies toilet of a Nenagh fast food shop has been jailed for life by Mr Justice Paul Carney.

David Power (27) of Brittas, Thurles today pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to raping the woman in Supermacs in Nenagh on January 28th, 2007.

Power was previously jailed by Mr Justice Carney for terms of five years on October 5th, 2001 and for three years on October 29th, 2002 for aggravated sexual assaults on women in Cork city in June and September 2000.

He was a private in the Irish Army, attached to Collins Barracks in Cork, at the time of his earlier crimes, but had left the defence forces when jailed.

Mr Justice Carney said he was imposing a life sentence but there was nothing to stop Power from applying for parole after eight years.

The victim told Mr Justice Carney the rape had affected her as “a woman, girlfriend, daughter, sister, friend, work colleague and human being” but her family and community had rallied around to support her.

She said she had been a very social person in the past but found her “sense of safety in the world severely threatened and compromised” after the attack and she kept the garda number on speed dial while socialising.

Power read from a letter in which he told the victim: “From the bottom of my heart I am so sorry for what I did to you.” He told Mr Justice Carney that he had tried to get access to treatment in custody.

Ms Elizabeth Power, his mother, told Mr Justice Carney that her son had been sexually abused as a child and as an adult and she was anxious that he receive therapy. “I am asking you as a mother to help my son. I am pleading with you.”

Mr Justice Carney replied that in his view he had already tried to help her son twice in imposing sentences for his previous sexual offending which might now be considered moderate.

He said he could not take into account Power’s troubled upbringing or his addiction to alcohol and drugs. He noted Power had consumed 15 pints, six shots and a “cocktail of ecstasy and speed” on the night of the attack.

Mr Justice Carney called the attack, “planned, predatory and opportunistic” and said Power had a “proven and admitted propensity for rape.”

Mr Justice Carney also told counsel, that since hearing the evidence, he had received a letter from the victim by registered post. He said although it was marked “strictly private and confidential” it was his rule to circulate such correspondence to all parties. However the letter was not read out in open court.

Defence counsel, Ms Isobel Kennedy SC (with Mr Michael Bowman BL), said she would be concerned if the letter had any influence on the court’s sentencing. Mr Justice Carney replied that the sentence was committed to writing long before he read the letter.

Ms Kennedy also complained about a piece which appeared in the Daily Star Newspaper last week following the hearing of evidence. She said the article was highly inflammatory and had caused difficulties to Power’s family.

Power stood with his head bowed as the life sentence was handed down. After a minute, he leaned forward, supporting himself on the bench in front before eventually having to sit down as the prison officers handcuffed him. He was then led away past his family and victims, both groups in tears.

Garda Joan Larkin told Mr John Aylmer SC (with Mr Sean Guerin BL), prosecuting, that the victim was on her way home from a nightclub with her boyfriend when she needed to use a toilet. They stopped at Supermacs and she went upstairs to the ladies toilet while he waited outside.

The woman said as she opened the door of a cubicle she was pushed inside by a man who grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her around. She struggled but could not get free and shouted to people coming in and out but could not be heard above the loud music in the toilets.

Power put his two hands around her neck and before he pulled down her clothes and raped her she managed to scrape his face.

Garda Larkin said the victim’s boyfriend had become concerned at the length of time she was gone and had asked a girl to go into the toilets to call out her name. The victim shouted out “yes” when she heard her name and Power stopped and immediately left the toilets.

Garda Larkin said gardaí were contacted and the “extremely traumatised and distressed” woman was treated in hospital. She said the whites of her eyes were red due to the pressure of Power’s hands around her throat and she had bruising on her neck and body which developed over the next few days.

CCTV in the restaurant showed Power going in and out of the ladies toilets in the early hours of the morning.

Power initially denied remembering anything of the incident on his arrest but subsequently made admissions. He told gardaí he had gone into Supermacs with a friend after a night out and had gone into the ladies toilets. He said he went to the gents to get sick and then returned and encountered his victim.

Ms Kennedy said Power had received some counselling while in custody but submitted that he required more intensive supervision. She said he had some insight into his offending and was willing and motivated to deal with his problems.

Ms Kennedy said Power had been sexually abused as a child by his paternal grandfather and more recently by an unknown person as an adult. He had a “high level of remorse” and had the benefit of a supportive family. She said he also accepted his offending was effected by the misuse of alcohol and other substances.

Mr Justice Carney jailed Power for five years on October 5th, 2001 for an aggravated sexual assault on a woman on Stable Lane, off Copley Street, in Cork city on September 29th, 2000.

He imposed a three years sentence on him on October 29th, 2002 for aggravated sexual assault of a 28-year-old prostitute in a car park near Fitton Rd in Cork around midnight on June 2nd, 2000.