A Galway farmer who sexually assaulted a “vulnerable” woman on a bus and “couldn’t have cared less” about the assault on her dignity was jailed for two years.
Galway Circuit Court heard Patrick O’Toole (53) licked the woman’s face after she was offered vodka.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan handed down a three-and-a-half-year sentence with the last 18 months suspended, reports The Irish Mirror
O’Toole, with an address in Glentrasna, Rosmuck, pleaded guilty to five counts of attempted sexual assault, sexual assault – all contrary to section 2 of the Criminal Law Rape Amendment Act 1990 – and section 2 of the Unlawful Act Deadly Offenses Against the Opposite Aggression Act.
The offenses occurred on 6 August 2019 on a Bus Eireann service between Moycullen and Maam Cross.
Addressing the accused, Judge O’Callaghan said: “The probation officer suggested in the report there is a bit of victim blaming by you. Not only do you remember this happening, but that it was her fault, not yours”, reports The Irish Mirror.
The judge said O’Toole had “invaded this woman’s privacy and dignity” and “couldn’t have cared less”, reports The Irish Mirror.
Garda Peter Naughton, of Oughterard Garda Station, said the woman was catching the bus after attending a pharmacy in Galway.
GDA Naughton said the then 35-year-old woman told Gardai O’Toole, who, unbeknownst to her, sat down next to her and started talking about her in a “sexually suggestive manner”, reports The Irish Mirror.
The court heard that he offered the woman a sip of vodka, grabbed her left thigh and rubbed his shoulder against hers.
The court heard that O’Toole was caught on CCTV as he boarded the bus and admitted that he was the man in the footage.
A woman who visited the victim after the assault said she was clearly “distressed and disorientated”, reports The Irish Mirror.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said, “”I do not know how to put into words the impact this has had on my life. I suffer from really bad nightmares and I have slit my wrists since this happened”, reports The Irish Mirror.
GDA Naughton prosecuting attorney, Gerry Silke Beall, gave O’Toole a total of 18 convictions, nine before the bus attack and nine after.
Justice O’Callaghan told O’Toole it was clear the harm done to the victim – “a vulnerable person” – was serious.
He said the accused has a “level of moral culpability is high”, reports The Irish Mirror.
The judge said the defendant was not drunk, as the court has a right to infer that if he were, the bus driver would not have allowed him on the bus.
He said aggravating factors include the duration of the contact, the nature of the contact, the victim’s vulnerability and the aftermath of the assault.
He said the defendant’s conviction is important.
The judge said, “It is the one good thing you have done Mr O’Toole, is plead guilty,” reports The Irish Mirror.
Judge O’Callaghan handed down a three-and-a-half-year sentence on a “primary” charge of sexual assault and considered the remaining counts.
He has suspended the last 18 months.
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