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Friday 17 November 2017

10 years for vicious rape of mum lost on night out

Mohamed Okda has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for rape and sexual assault
Mohamed Okda has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for rape and sexual assault

A man found guilty of raping a woman he met after offering to help her when she became lost on a night out in Dublin has been jailed for 10 years.

Mohamed Okda (31), formerly of Coolfin, Rathdowney, Co Laois, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of raping the woman and one count of sexual assault at a flat in Dublin city centre, on February 9, 2014.

Last July, a jury took just under three hours to return unanimous guilty verdicts on all counts after a seven-day trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Egyptian national Okda, who had been staying at a friend's house in the city on the night in question, rejects the jury's verdict. He has 16 previous convictions for minor offences.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty imposed an 11-year sentence on each of the rape counts, and five years for the sexual assault charge.

He directed the jail terms to run concurrently and suspended the final year, acknowledging that prison is more difficult for foreign nationals and that Okda has claimed he was threatened while in custody.

Broken

In her victim impact statement, the married mother described how she suffers from panic attacks and depression. She told the court the attack has left her a "broken person".

Mr Justice Moriarty noted the woman's continuing "arduous" experience as she tries to piece her life back together, with support from family and friends.

Referring to a psychologist's report, he rejected Okda's claims that the woman had been "happily engaging in conversation" before assuming a distressed posture during court proceedings.

The judge said from his observations the case had been "particularly distressing" for her. He also acknowledged her courage in giving a "poignant" impact report.

In her evidence, the woman said that she lived outside Dublin and was visiting the city with two female friends for a night out.

At the end of the night she was drunk and tired, she said.

She lost her friends and became upset because they weren't responding to texts or phone calls. Okda approached her and offered to help her find her friends, she said.

He suggested she come back to the flat where she could continue to try to contact her friends on her phone. She said once back in the flat he raped her.

She said she feared for her life during the attack and begged Okda not to kill her. After it ended she ran out of the flat and waved down a passing taxi driver, who saw she was in distress and took her to gardai.

Ciaran O'Loughlin, defending, said that his client was living in Laois but had moved to Dublin for work. He went home most weekends, but not the weekend of the offence.

He said his client wanted to better himself and had enrolled in an English course. The prosecution told the court that Okda had only attended at the course for three half-days.

At an earlier sentence hearing, Mr O'Loughlin said that his client's position was that there were two people in the flat where he was staying when he came back with the woman.

Counsel said these men were not interviewed by gardai and that this was of considerable concern to his client. He said his client does not accept the guilty verdict.

Trauma

The judge backdated the sentence to begin when Okda entered custody in July this year.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said she was lucky to have a supportive husband and that they were working to repair their relationship in the wake of what happened.

"My husband has to deal with the trauma of what happened to his wife," she said.

"I often feel like I can't go on. For the sake of my husband and kids I get up every day and do my best to get on with life.

"I didn't walk away unharmed. I was once a happy person who loved to talk to people... not a day goes by without feeling the weight of that night and what was done to me and what can never be undone."

Okda had 16 previous convictions in Ireland dating back to 2006, none of which are for a sexual offence. They mostly involve driving offences, public order offences and theft.

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