A man who assisted in imprisoning and assaulting a teenager during a four day “reign of terror” in County Cavan house has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
The man (23) assaulted the victim with a wrench and a dumbbell during the incident, while his twin sister (23) carved the numbers 666 into the victim's forehead.
The main male accused (27) subjected the victim to the ordeal after forming the “irrational” view that the victim had “ratted” on him, based on the fact that the victim was not served a charge sheet upon his release from custody after being found in possession of drugs.
The Central Criminal Court heard that during the ordeal, the instigator stabbed the victim with a number of knives and cut a crescent shape onto the victim's face, which the court heard in certain circles bears the inference of a “rat scar”.
The instigator also at one point inserted a dildo or other sex toy into the victim's “back passage”.
The ordeal came to an end after material recorded during the events and uploaded to social media came to the attention of the victim's friends and family and they were able to use a tracking device on his phone to locate them. They went to this address and enabled the victim to escape.
The victim was aged 19 at the time of the offences. None of the parties in the case can be named for legal reasons.
The instigator pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault, assault causing serious harm, false imprisonment, making threats to kill, assault causing harm and robbery, all at a location in Co Cavan between October 17 and October 20, 2019.
This man has a total of 26 previous convictions in this jurisdiction and in Northern Ireland, including convictions for theft, possession of drugs for sale or supply, possession of knives and other articles and public order offences.
Mr Justice Michael White last Thursday sentenced him to 11 years imprisonment, but suspended the final two years of the sentence on strict conditions including that he follow all directions of the Probation Service for two years post release.
The male twin pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and two counts of assault causing harm, while the female twin pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and assault causing harm, all offences occurring at the same location in Co Cavan during the same period.
The male twin has 11 previous convictions, including convictions for assault, theft, criminal damage and public order offences. The female twin has no previous convictions.
The female twin was sentenced last May to four years imprisonment with the final three years and three months suspended.
Passing sentence on Friday, Justice White said the offences committed by the male twin constituted a breach of trust as he had been friends with the victim for over a year prior to the incident.
Justice White said the offences were aggravated by their serious nature, the impact of the offending on the victim and the man's previous conviction for assault.
He said the man's culpability is much less than that of the main male accused, but more serious than his twin sister. He said there was no evidence he was under the influence of the main male accused to the extent that his sister was.
Justice White sentenced the man to five years imprisonment, but suspended the final two-and-a-half years of the sentence on strict conditions including that he undergo therapeutic intervention.
At a previous sentencing hearing, a local detective sergeant told Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, that the victim came to know the main male accused in October 2019 in the context of them having mutual friends.
The detective sergeant said that on October 17, 2019, the victim and this man went to Dublin where they purchased cannabis and Zopiclone tablets. Their conduct on the bus back to Co Cavan caused the driver to stop the bus and contact gardaí who arrested both men.
Gardaí searched the two men in a garda station and found the drugs in the possession of the victim. Both men were released without charge and they retired to the accused's address.
The detective sergeant said the accused formed the “irrational” view that the victim had “ratted” on him, basing this erroneous view on the fact that the victim had not been served a charge sheet upon his release from custody.
From that point on until the victim's escape on October 20, the victim was subject to a constant refrain that he had been a rat in some way along with constant threats and actual violence towards him.
The court heard that the victim was not free to leave the house and was effectively kept in the house at the “beck and command” of those inside it. There was also an amount of drug taking going on independently of the assaults.
The main male accused stabbed the victim with a number of knives. He also cut a crescent shape onto the victim's face, which the court heard in certain circles bears the inference of a “rat scar”.
The victim sustained cuts on his face, arms and body, as well as being hit with implements and subjected to threats that he and his family would be killed by the main male accused. His phone and wallet were also taken during the incident.
The main male accused was joined by two acquaintances, the two co-accused in this case. The male twin hit the victim with a wrench and a dumbbell, while the female twin hit him with a HDMI cable and carved the numbers 666 into his forehead.
At one stage during the incident, the main male accused told the victim to bend over a bed or his throat would be sliced. He then put shaving foam around the victim's “back passage” and inserted a dildo or other sex toy into the victim's “back passage”.
The court heard that the co-accused were both present during this offence. This was apparently filmed by the main male accused and while there is no evidence that this was uploaded or circulated, quite an amount of other material recorded during the incident was uploaded.
The victim was given “speed” to keep him awake over the course of the weekend. On two occasions he was forced to leave the address, on the first occasion to go begging for money and on the second to shoplift.
Material uploaded to Snapchat came to the attention of the victim's friends and family and they were able to use a tracking device on his phone to locate them. They attended at this address and enabled the victim to escape.
Gardaí had also launched an investigation on foot of the material and arrested the main male accused at his parents’ home. During interview with gardaí, the main male accused for the most part made no comment to the allegations that were put to him.
In his victim impact statement, which was read before the court by the detective sergeant, the victim said he used to think of the main male accused as a good mate, but not after what happened.
The victim said they used to have a laugh together, but now he cannot laugh at all. He said he is trying to recover from the incident and the accused has scarred him for life.
Justice White said the ordeal had been a “betrayal by friends” for the victim, whom he said was “remarkably understanding” in his impact statement.
The detective sergeant agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, defending the main male accused, that his client developed the irrational belief the victim had implicated him to gardai and that appears on his part to have been “in all probability” influenced by drug taking.
The main male accused told the court that he was sorry and addressed the victim, saying, “I took that video in an attempt to embarrass you, but I only ended up embarrassing myself”. He said his reaction to seeing a video recorded during the ordeal was “disgust and shame”.
Mr O’Higgins said his client had been bullied in his early teens and now recognised what he did as “the actions of a bully”. He said that if his client's drug abuse was removed, there was “a significant possibility that his rehabilitation can be achieved”.
Counsel said that in sentencing the man there should be “some correlation” with the penalty given to his co-accused.
A local garda agreed with Dominic McGinn SC, defending the male twin, that it was clear the “horrific violence” for the most extent was perpetrated by the main male accused. He agreed that on the basis of the videos, the main male accused was clearly “an aggressive and dangerous individual”.
He agreed with counsel that his client and the victim had been friends prior to the incident and that they would drink and abuse drugs together. He agreed the male twin had invited the victim to live in his family home, but that they were both later told to leave the house.
The garda agreed with counsel that his client “essentially homeless” at the time of the incident. He agreed the male twin has not come to the attention of gardaí since the incident.
Mr McGinn said his client was not “an inherently bad man” and was a man who for a period of his life was “badly affected” by intoxicants. He submitted that his client was now in work and is no longer abusing alcohol or taking illicit drugs.
Counsel said his client made “significant admissions” when interviewed by gardaí. He said that at the time of the incident his client was in a “crisis of his own” having tried to take his own life a week earlier.
Mr McGinn said his client accepts he needs to be punished for what he did.
The court heard that the female twin claimed that the main male accused was very violent and aggressive and had threatened her “off camera” to carve the numbers into the victim’s forehead. She said the man had threatened her family and had threatened to throw acid in her child’s face.
Counsel for the female twin said she was deeply ashamed and disgusted with herself for her actions.
She had a difficult relationship with her mother. She had a history of drug addiction and mental health and “a significant history of sexual abuse”. She had a child when she was 16 years old.
It was suggested that she was “induced into taking significant drugs” that day which she had never taken before and she then “did everything she was told to do”.
Passing sentence last Thursday, Justice White said the main male accused was the “instigator” of the false imprisonment.
Justice White said the nature of the offending was an aggravating factor as the victim was subjected to a “reign of terror” over several days. He said the other aggravating factors were the impact of the violence on the victim and some of the activity being recorded and uploaded online.
He said this was an order of criminality out of character to the main male accused's previous offending. He noted the accused has had behavioural difficulties since childhood which are aggravated by chronic drug use.