herald

Monday 21 August 2017

Victim still lives in fear as brutal rapist due for jail release

EARLY RELEASE: Patrick O'Driscoll
EARLY RELEASE: Patrick O'Driscoll

THIRTEEN years after a rape ordeal that left her with a fractured skull, she still sleeps with a baseball bat by her pillow.

The woman who was raped and brutalised by one of Ireland's most notorious sex predators is now living in terror of his imminent release.

Patrick 'Lolo' O'Driscoll (45) is due for release from prison within months having completed over 10 years of a 14-year rape sentence.

O'Driscoll committed the rape just months after being released from prison for another rape, serving nine years of a 12-year sentence.

Both rapes involved O'Driscoll ambushing women as they walked home alone in his native Cork and then subjecting them to a sick ordeal.

In one case, he told a woman he would target her child if she didn't comply with his wishes before beating her savagely over the head with a rock.

He was arrested after a huge manhunt that extended over most of north Cork.

Such was the fear that O'Driscoll instilled that women across north Cork wouldn't go out alone at night while he was loose.

However, O'Driscoll has been a model inmate in prison and is expected to qualify for 25pc remission of his sentence.

He has also availed of various training courses while in custody for the past 10 years and is expected to return to his Cork home.

However, one of his victims admitted that his release is the stuff of nightmares.

"I am dreading the day when he walks free. It is something I have feared for the past 10 years and we know that he will be out very soon," she told The Herald.

"I am a totally different person today to what I was before the rape. It completely changed me," she said.

"I was outgoing and confident. Now, I need to be surrounded by friends all the time.

"I won't go out alone at night. I won't ever walk alone. I sleep with a baseball bat by my pillow every night.

"I knew he was going to get out some time. But the prospect of early release is upsetting enough without realising that this man will be walking around free in our community."

The prospect has again thrown her rebuilt life into turmoil.

"I had nightmares for years about what happened and they are now back again. If I hear a noise outside my back window I'm jumping right out of my skin even though I know he is still behind bars.

"I feel so badly let down by the justice system. Here is a man that has shown he is a danger to women and yet he will be able to start his life over again.

"He attacked a woman a few months after getting out of prison before. What if he does it again? The gardai have been absolutely brilliant but they can only do so much."

The victim's mother said in 2003 that the sentence handed to O'Driscoll was "a joke".

"We expected at least 25 to 30 years' jail for him. He'll be out when he is about 45 . . . there were two trials and just a 14-year term, we're highly disgusted. This ordeal has destroyed my daughter," she said.

O'Driscoll has now spent almost half his life in prison.

O'Driscoll was jailed for rape in 1991 and spent nine years behind bars.

He was released in March 2000 but, on September 3, committed his second rape.

STALKED

A third woman narrowly escaped a similar fate when O'Driscoll stalked and attacked her in July 2001, only for her brother to hear the noise. When he went to check what was wrong, O'Driscoll fled.

That attack occurred while gardai were hunting for O'Driscoll in connection with the September 2000 attack.

When four gardai tried to arrest him on September 8, 2000, in relation to the rape committed five days earlier, he attacked them with a slash hook.

He was later released while the investigation proceeded but, when gardai went to arrest him a second time, O'Driscoll managed to evade them for four months.

One evening, he drove straight through a checkpoint and vanished.

hnews@herald.ie

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