Woman was sexually assaulted in toilets of Limerick hotel

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Woman was sexually assaulted in toilets of Limerick hotel

Shane Byrnes appeared before Limerick Circuit Court

A WOMAN who was sexually assaulted in the toilets of a city hotel says she still has nightmares and is afraid to do simple things while alone.

In a victim impact statement which was read to Limerick Circuit Court this Wednesday, the 25-year-old added that she attended counselling following the incident which happened more than two years ago.

Shane Byrnes, aged 26, who is originally Hyde Road, Prospect has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman on the afternoon of April 18, 2014.

During a sentencing hearing, Garda Colum O’Shea said the woman was changing, having used the leisure facilities at the hotel, when the defendant emerged from one of the cubicles. Byrnes initially apologised to her saying he believed he was in the “lads room” but later grabbed the woman’s arm and asked to see her breasts saying: “They’re nice — let me see them, let me touch them”.

Garda O’Shea told John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, the defendant then stood and stared at the woman’s chest before grabbing one of her breasts.

Gardai were alerted by hotel management a short time after the woman informed them what had happened.

 The defendant, the court heard, was identified as a suspect from CCTV footage covering the hotel lobby.

When arrested and questioned a number of months later, Byrnes made full admissions.

The defendant, who has a previous conviction for a similar offence dating back to 2009, told gardai he had entered the toilet area in the hope of finding money to pay for alcohol.

“I was in there to get a fix for drink,” he said insisting it was a “spur of the moment thing which I seriously regret”.

He admitted he had also searched the men’s changing rooms before entering the ladies changing rooms. During interview Byrnes admitted making derogatory comments to the woman but denied that he had touched the woman inappropriately.  “I wasn’t aggressive in any way,” he told gardai.

Laurence Goucher BL said his client had entered the hotel with the intention of stealing money and he submitted the offence was opportunistic rather than premeditated.

He said Byrnes, who has reduced his consumption of alcohol since the incident, hopes to take up a place on a sexual offenders rehabilitation course.

However, referring to the contents of a probation report which was prepared for the court, he noted that there is no guarantee that participation in the course will eliminate the risk of him re-offending.

Judge Tom O’Donnell adjourned the matter to next week when he will impose sentence.