A SEX offender who was given a character reference by Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years.
RONAN McCusker pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his 47-year-old victim after he'd met her following a Cemetery Sunday service in Magherafelt, Co Derry, on June 28, 2010.
The victim's family said they were "disappointed" by Harte's involvement and the woman is now seeking to get McCusker's sentence increased.
McCusker, from Ballygillen Road in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, also admitted ejecting his victim from his father's van when she was naked from the waist down after he had assaulted her.
Judge Piers Grant took character references on board, including one from Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, when deciding to hand McCusker half the maximum sentence.
The victim said the sentence is too lenient. She is still suffering the effects of the trauma, and was too distressed to attend Derry Crown Court yesterday.
The 47-year-old mother said: "I am relieved it is all over and I am glad he is in prison but the sentence is not long enough."
McCusker pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman and assaulting her by throwing her out of a van in a semi-naked state, as well as motoring offences which included taking a vehicle without permission, driving while disqualified and with no licence or insurance.
McCusker must sign the sex offenders register for 10 years and is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. He will serve 15 months of his jail term behind bars and 15 months on licence.
Speaking after he was jailed, two of the victim's children said their family hoped to "piece our lives back together again". "We're disappointed by Mickey Harte's involvement and would like to be left alone to nurse mum back to good health."