Limerick man jailed for 'predatory and degrading' sexual assault

Donal O'Regan

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Donal O'Regan

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news@limerickleader.ie

Limerick man jailed for 'predatory and degrading' sexual assault

A COUNTY Limerick dairy farmer has been jailed for a “predatory and degrading” sexual assault on a young woman asleep in the same bedroom as his 14-year-old daughter.

The defendant had not been named to date. Due to the wishes of the injured party, reporting restrictions were lifted by Judge Martina Baxter. The judge stressed the victim was not to be named.

Daniel Scanlon, aged 60, of Loughill West, Loughill appeared before the judge at a sentencing hearing in Limerick Circuit Court. He had previously pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman, aged 22 at the time, in his house in the early hours of February 27, 2017.

Judge Baxter said the injured party is an “impressive and articulate young woman”.

“This prosecution is to her credit,” said Judge Baxter.

The court had previously heard the woman had been working on accounts for Scanlon until 11pm and decided to stay overnight. She slept in the same bedroom as Scanlon’s 14-year-old daughter.

Detective Garda Jerry O’Sullivan told Lily Buckley BL, instructed by state solicitor Aidan Judge, when the woman woke sometime during the night she realised she had moved position in the bed and that her leggings and knickers had been “pulled down mid-thigh”.

There were fluids on her clothing and she told gardai she could hear heavy breathing in the room and that she believed it was Scanlon as he was the only male in the house.

After leaving the house the following morning, the woman confided in a relative and outlined her suspicions. She subsequently made a complaint to gardai that she believed she had been sexually assaulted.

The clothes she was wearing were examined and semen matching the DNA of the accused was found on her knickers, leggings and socks.

In sentencing Scanlon, Judge Baxter said the victim described it as a “nightmare”.

“She is one smart young woman to keep her clothes and provide them to gardai,” said Judge Baxter.

The judge said Scanlon “gratifying himself sexually”, after removing the sleeping woman’s clothes, was “predatory and degrading” - and while his daughter was asleep in the same bedroom.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said that she blames herself for what happened and that she is embarrassed to talk about what happened as she believes people will look at her differently.

“I blame myself so much, mentally I beat myself up,” she stated, adding that she still suffers from panic attacks and has flashbacks.

Judge Baxter said it was not her fault “by any manner of means” and Scanlon was “100% wrong”.

Mark Nicholas SC, defending, said the victim was “absolutely faultless”.

He said there is “no minimising what happened”. The barrister handed in letters from three local businessmen, who knew Scanlon in a professional capacity, that referenced his “fall from grace”.

“A plea was entered. He is from a small riverside community, He has lived there all his life. He has been ostracised. It is out there. He is shamed and embarrassed. That remains forever,” said Mr Nicholas, who described it as a “disgraceful and despicable event”.

The senior counsel said Scanlon has no previous convictions and the Probation Service found he is at “a low risk of reoffending”. Mr Nicholas said Scanlon did not receive legal aid and had to sell more cattle to pay for it.

“His name locally is besmirched forever,” said Mr Nicholas.

In sentencing Scanlon, Judge Baxter said she took all this into account. Regarding the “fall from grace” the judge said the fall was caused by himself.

Judge Baxter sentenced Scanlon to two and half years imprisonment with the last 12 months suspended. It was backdated to January 14 as Scanlon has been in custody since then.