A MAN has avoided a prison sentence after sexually assaulting a woman while she slept in a bed with her 12 year-old son and her sister, in what a judge has described as a “disgraceful incident” and “a moment of complete madness”.
Gerald Hewitt, aged 43, of Birdhill, Co Tipperary, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman, who cannot be identified, in the early hours of March 12, 2011.
There were emotional scenes in Limerick Circuit Court after Judge Carroll Moran handed down a two-year suspended sentence to the defendant, a father of three, whose wife has stood by him throughout the case.
In a victim impact statement, the woman told the court how her “whole world was shattered” and that she felt “ashamed, dirty and used” as a result of the incident.
She said she could not sleep and lost her appetite in the months afterwards.
“He violated the safety of my home and my bedroom,” she said, adding that she had been the subject of “gossip and rumour,” in the immediate aftermath of the event.
“I thought I was just existing. I screamed in my head for the pain and hurt to go away.” She said if he had admitted outright what he had done a lot of pain could have been avoided.
She awoke in the middle of the night to find Hewitt performing oral sex on her, and then saw him crawling on his knees back out the door.
Hewitt and the victim had been at a party earlier in the day and he had travelled to her home that night sometime after she had gone to bed. A number of people had been staying in the house that time, and several people had “doubled up” in bed.
The court heard that Hewitt had been drinking heavily and he claimed that he had an increased libido as a result of medication.
The victim rang him after the assault, told him she was “very annoyed” and asked him why he did it. He told her she was “over-reacting”.
When they later met at a funeral Hewitt told her he had never had the opportunity to apologise. He told the victim he did not know what had come over him on that night.
After consulting with others close to her, she went to make a formal complaint to the gardai.
He was arrested on October 28 of that year, and in his third interview with gardai made admissions, after initially saying his memory was “a bit fuzzy”.
Mark Nicholas BL said the offence was dreadful but he said his client, who is unemployed, had never come to garda attention previously.
He added that Hewitt has already suffered a “loss of face” in his local community because of his actions.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Moran said the victim was “very bitter” as a result of what happened, and had suffered greatly as a result of “this intrusion in the middle of the night”.
He said she suffered “severe trauma, which was not to be under-estimated”.
While he said this was a “completely unacceptable intrusion” for the woman, he added that Hewitt has “suffered considerable punishment in the community in which he lives”.
He sentenced Hewitt to a two-year sentence, suspended for five years and bound him to the peace for that time.
“I hope you realise what you’ve done,” the judge told Hewitt as he left the court.