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Thursday 20 September 2018

'I'm a broken person. I often feel like I can't go on', says victim of rape

Mohamed Okda was found guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault
Mohamed Okda was found guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault

A mother who was raped by a twisted thug who pretended to come to her aid after she got lost on a night out in Dublin says she is now a "broken person".

In a heartbreaking victim impact statement read out in the Central Criminal Court, the married woman described how she suffers from panic attacks and depression since she was raped by Mohamed Okda while in the city centre in 2014.

"My trusting nature and heart has been broken," she said. "I am now a broken person.

"My belief that people are essentially good and my belief in people around me has been damaged."

Okda (30), an Egyptian national formerly of Coolfin, Rathdowney, Co Laois, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of raping the woman and one count of sexually assaulting her at a flat in Dublin in February, 2014.

The jury took just under three hours to return unanimous guilty verdicts on all counts following the seven-day trial earlier this month. One of the jurors returned to court yesterday for the sentence hearing. The matter will return to court on October 9.

Garda Mark Mahon told Sean Guerin SC, prosecuting, that the woman had travelled to Dublin to enjoy her first night out since the birth of her child.

Around 4am she got separated from her friends after she went to an ATM to get money out for a homeless person.

She did not know the exact address of where she was staying and could not get through to her friends, the court heard.

Asleep

She was upset and crying when she was approached by Okda, who suggested she came back to his apartment where she could continue to try and contact her friends.

The court heard the woman was drunk and tired. She fell asleep or blacked out on a sofa bed in the apartment and woke up to find Okda touching her.

The woman repeatedly said "no" and told Okda she had a husband and children, but he kept pushing her back down, telling her: "You stay. It's OK."

Gda Mahon said the woman was in fear for her life by that stage, and that although Okda did not make any verbal threats, she was very frightened by the expression on his face.

The woman begged Okda not to kill her before he raped her.

When it was over, he told her she could go. The woman ran outside and tried to flag down a number of cars before a taxi stopped and took her to a garda station.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said she tried to seek counselling, but even picking up the phone to arrange appointments brought on a panic attack.

Supportive

She said she was lucky to have a supportive husband and that they were working to repair their relationship, adding: "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 was once a happy person who loved to talk.

"Not a day goes by without feeling the weight of that night and what was done to me and what can never be undone."

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty told the woman she was an "admirable lady".

Okda has 16 previous convictions in Ireland, none of which is for a sexual offence. He has been in custody since he was found guilty.

Ciaran O'Loughlin SC, defending, requested that the matter be adjourned until October, when a plea of mitigation and cross-examination of Gda Mahon will take place.

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