03 Dec 2021

Healthcare assistant who raped pensioner in nursing home during Covid-19 lockdown jailed

Case today before the Central Criminal Court

Healthcare assistant who raped pensioner in nursing home during Covid-19 lockdown jailed

A health care assistant who raped a pensioner in her nursing home bed during the Covid-19 lock-down has been jailed for 11 years.

The woman's family described how they have been unable to comfort their mother by hugging her as they normally would since the rape in April. The elderly woman remains terrified the man will return to her room.

Her daughter told the court: “We always said we will dread the day she loses her memory but now one day we hope she wakes up and doesn't remember.”

She described how finding a nursing home for their mother had been an emotional process but said the woman had felt happy and safe in the home. “This animal took that security away,” she said.

“We will never forget how that man single-handedly destroyed our Mam's life,” she told the court. 

The 52-year-old man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to raping the woman in her room at 3am on the morning of April 3, 2020 at a County Dublin nursing home. He has no previous convictions and has been in custody since his arrest in April.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott noted the offence had taken place against a vulnerable elderly lady who was totally alone and helpless and was confined to her room due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said this was an egregious breach of trust by a qualified and experienced healthcare worker. 

He noted a probation report showed matters of real concern to the court including that the man had little insight of the effect of his actions on the woman and that, although he accepted his actions were heinous and expressed remorse, it was felt it lacked depth beyond vocalisation.

He took into account the man, who has worked in healthcare for 15 years, had entered an early guilty plea and had otherwise lead a blameless and hard-working life.

Mr Justice McDermot imposed 12 years imprisonment and suspended the final year on strict conditions.

The court heard how gardaí were alerted after the elderly woman was found in a distressed state the following morning by another member of staff and said she had been raped by the accused.

The woman's daughter, in a victim impact statement prepared on her mother's behalf, described how due to Covid-19 restrictions the family had been unable to accompany their distressed mother as she was taken in a garda car to hospital to be examined at a sexual assault treatment unit.

She said the effect on their mother has been devastating. She is afraid of anyone coming into her room and checks the bathroom to make sure the man has not returned to the nursing home.

The woman described talking to her mother on the phone late at night and reassuring her that the “monster” is in prison and can not return to her room to hurt her again.

She said the family are devastated that she no longer has “the spark” she once did, and said their mother is traumatised to the point where they can see she has given up. 

She said the accused man had taken advantage of his position in the most despicable way. 

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, said the Director of Public Prosecutions places this offence in the highest category on the scale.

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