herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Sex attacker had duct tape as he followed girl (18)

Maurice Fitzgerald
Maurice Fitzgerald

An apprentice jockey has been given a four-year jail sentence for an attack on a young woman while he was on bail for a similar offence.

The sentencing judge described the assault as a "worst nightmare scenario" for the 18-year-old UCC student, who had become separated from her friends on a night out.

Maurice Fitzgerald (23) of Abbeyview, Buttevant, Co Cork, had followed the student, bringing with him scissors and duct tape, after she had left his house in the middle of the night following a sexual assault.

Judge Thomas E O'Donnell said admissions made by Fitzgerald to gardai that he had fought his urges to hurt the woman after she had rejected his sexual advances were "startling" and contained "sinister undertones".

Fitzgerald told gardai when interviewed that he was "into bondage" and was "sick in the head". An examination of his mobile phone revealed he had googled 'girl', 'tape' and 'gagged' the day before the offences.

At a previous sitting of Tralee Circuit Criminal Court, Fitzgerald had pleaded guilty to five offences including sexual assault, false imprisonment, assault causing harm, and possession of a weapon - scissors and duct tape - on the Dingle Road, Tralee on September 20, 2015.

A four-year suspended sentence for a similar offence was activated on his arrest.

Fitzgerald approached his victim outside a Tralee nightclub at around 2am. The judge said she "genuinely believed" he was concerned for her safety. He invited her back to his house telling her there was a party and she could sleep in his spare room.

The woman went to bed fully clothed but Fitzgerald got into the bed beside her and made sexual advances towards her.

She got up to leave but he apologised and assured her it wouldn't happen again.

When she returned to the bed he became more forceful and pulled down her leggings and underwear, the court heard.

The woman left the house on foot at around 4am but Fitzgerald caught up with her, knocked her to the ground and tried to push her into a ditch. Two men returning from night work in Dingle came upon the scene and called the gardai.

Fitzgerald will be placed on the sex offenders' register for life.

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