herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

'L' driver's ordeal with 'creepy' old instructor

'Donal Ryan followed his pupil into her bedroom, where he lay down and patted the woman's bed, signalling for her to join him (stock photo)
'Donal Ryan followed his pupil into her bedroom, where he lay down and patted the woman's bed, signalling for her to join him (stock photo)

A "creepy" 74-year-old driving instructor has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman during a stop-off on a driving lesson.

Donal Ryan followed his pupil into her bedroom, where he lay down and patted the woman's bed, signalling for her to join him.

The student nurse "froze" and was "shocked" and "very startled" at Ryan's actions during their 11th lesson together, Insp Tom Kennedy told Killaloe District Court.

She had gone to her family home to collect a couple of items, only for the pensioner to follow her in uninvited.

"Ryan was lying down on one side of her bed and patting the other side with his right hand, and she took that as an invitation to get on to the bed," said Insp Kennedy.

She left her bedroom, but Ryan caught her from behind and wrapped his arms around her. She wriggled free, but he grabbed her from behind again.

Ryan had told her "you're so gorgeous, you're so gorgeous" and that she made him excited, which she had found "creepy".

He then grabbed her breasts with both hands and squeezed them through her clothing.

The woman felt violated and said that what had happened on November 15 last year was a "horrible experience".

Judge Patrick Durcan described the case as extremely serious and adjourned sentencing to Ennis District Court today.

During the incident, Insp Kennedy said the woman was feeling inner panic but was showing outer calm.

When she had met her boyfriend, she burst into tears and made a complaint to gardai.

Ryan, of St Conlon's Road, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, had previously made a number of inappropriate comments to the woman, including telling her she had lovely legs and he was feeling like 21.

apologises

On another occasion, the woman had to take off her boots as they weren't suitable for driving and, when putting them back on, Ryan told her the neighbours might think she was getting re-dressed.

Ryan's solicitor, Jennifer Donovan, said her client had worked for 22 years in Nenagh without any incident of this nature and was now retired and drawing the state pension.

"He has no previous convictions for any type of offence and absolutely unreservedly apologises to the woman," she said.

Ms Donovan said Ryan had only appreciated the effect of his actions after reading the woman's statements.

"He is a very tactile person by nature," she said. Her client had co-operated fully with gardai.

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