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€1m damages for woman raped multiple times by boyfriend as she slept

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Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill. Photo: Collins Courts

Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill. Photo: Collins Courts

Magnus Meyer Hustveit. Photo: Collins Courts

Magnus Meyer Hustveit. Photo: Collins Courts

Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill. Photo: Collins Courts

A woman who was raped and sexually assaulted by her then boyfriend multiple times while she slept has been awarded €1m in damages by a High Court jury.

Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill told the jury in evidence that she "felt unsafe everywhere" as a result of Magnus Meyer Hustveit's actions.

She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, had been unable to continue her much-loved teaching job, left Ireland for several years and had tried at one stage to take her own life.

Becoming tearful during her evidence, she said: "There has never been a part of me that has not been profoundly impacted."

Lenient

The impact of the assaults on Ms Ni Dhomhnaill was about nine to nine-and-a-half out of 10 on a scale on severity, a psychiatrist told the jury.

Ms Ni Dhomhnaill, of Dublin, took civil proceedings against Hustveit, of JensBjelkes Gate Apartments, Oslo.

He was given a 15-month prison sentence following a finding by the Court of Appeal in 2016 that his original wholly suspended seven-year sen- tence was "unduly lenient".

Hustveit had pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to one count of rape and one count of sexual assault committed between 2011 and 2012.

In imposing a 15-month prison term, the Court of Appeal said the combination of factors including Hustveit's co-operation, voluntary return to Ireland to be charged, previous good character and positive life he was now leading in Norway justified and required a sentence appreciably less than would be normal in cases of multiple rapes.

Ms Ni Dhomhnaill sought damages for multiple acts of sexual assault on dates unknown between May 2011 and the end of April 2012 at an apartment in Belvedere Place.

She sought damages for personal injuries, loss and damage caused by the assault, battery, rape, sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional harm on Hustveit's part.

Judgment was entered in default of defence and the jury was told by Mr Justice Max Barrett that its task was to assess damages only.

Aggravated

Having heard evidence from Ms Ni Dhomhnaill, her mother and a psychiatrist, the jury assessed damages in a total sum of €1m, comprising €350,000 general damages, €400,000 aggravated damages and €250,000 punitive damages.

Ms Ni Dhomhnaill said she was in a sexual relationship with Hustveit from May 2011 and they had moved in together to the Belvedere Place flat around September 2011 until the relationship ended around April 29, 2012.

She said he had repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted her while she was asleep.

She said Hustveit had admitted on April 29, 2012 that he had raped her and this had been going on for a period of time.

She received an email from him on May 27, 2012 admitting he penetrated her with his penis and/or hands, touched her and kissed her while she was asleep over a prolonged period of time and used her body for his own gratification.

Receiving the email was "extremely shocking" and disturbing as it detained in a clinical manner how she had been repeatedly violated in her sleep by him.

During the relevant period of time, she also discovered a fist-sized bruise on the inside of her upper thigh which took about a week to heal.

In September 2013, she tried to take her own life.

She had attended weekly therapy sessions and a psychotherapist, had issues around food and excessive exercising, was abusing laxative tablets and had at times struggled to leave her bedroom and home.

All her relationships and friendships had been affected, and she continued to feel frightened about trusting people, including her parents.

Unable to continue in her teaching job, she left for London where she sought to lose herself in studying psychology.

She continues to have disturbing nightmares and could not say how she would be in 10 years.