A Bessbrook man who imprisoned a young woman in a downstairs toilet while he sexually assaulted her will spend the next nine months behind bars.
Despite sending a message to his victim in the hours after the attack, stating he was “sorry”, Miceal Carragher, of John F Kennedy Park, continues to deny any wrongdoing.
However, following a trial at Newry Crown Court, the 21-year-old was found guilty of false imprisonment and sexual assault, and was today (Thursday) handed an 18-month sentence – half of which will be spent in prison.
At the time of the incident, on Saturday, September 7 – less than two months after Carragher’s 18th birthday – the victim had been on a night out. At the end of the night, she and a group of friends returned to a house party just before 4am where there were a group of 15-20 young people in attendance.
She stated that she was “very drunk” at the time. The defendant, who was not a close friend, was also at the house and he too was “very drunk”.
The two offences occurred in the downstairs bathroom of the property.
Detailing the series of events around the offences, His Honour Judge Gordon Kerr KC, said Carragher pulled his victim by the arm into the bathroom, locking the door behind him and forcefully holding on to the victim.
Carragher continued to keep her there “throughout an episode of sexual assault, the full details of which are now uncertain, but which, at least involve the defendant pushing her against the toilet, pressing [himself] against her and making an attempt to remove her undergarments”.
She was only able to free herself when, “having failed to remove her undergarments” Carragher released his grip on her and leaving her able to “fall to the floor and move away and ultimately escape”.
The court heard that Carragher sent a text message to his victim at 12.38pm later that day, which read, ‘well [victim’s name], sorry about last night, was really drunk’.
Judge Kerr described the victim, who “had considerable drink taken”, as “vulnerable”.
He said: “Although not a long period of time, the reason for detaining her in the toilet was to commit sexual assault upon her. The jury verdict suggests the form of the assault was determined and a forceful attempt to put his hands up her dress to try and remove her underwear.
“On her account, he was exposed at the time, and she could feel them pressing against her back. The jury has determined that she did not consent to this assault, nor did he reasonably believe that she did.”
Judge Kerr said the one matter that could potentially be seen as mitigation of his behaviour was the message he sent her the next morning, however, that was “explained by him in evidence as not being an acceptance of any wrongdoing, but rather….an apology for not ejaculating”.
He added: “Drink is no mitigation of his case. In her case, it made her more vulnerable…it was an assault which required a degree of force while she was clearly resisting. The effect of the behaviour upon the victim is significant and has undoubtedly affected her life in a significant way.”
In addition to the 18 month sentence on each count to run concurrently, Judge Kerr also handed Carragher a 10-year restraining order against the victim.