West Cork hitchhiker was subjected to sexually offensive conduct

West Cork hitchhiker was subjected to sexually offensive conduct

The man, who was previously convicted for masturbating in the presence of teenage girls, was jailed today. Stock image.

A MAN who was previously convicted for masturbating in the presence of teenage girls was jailed today for engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature when he gave a 17-year-old a lift in West Cork.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “In my view, it is essential that people be protected even when they are hitch-hiking. 

"I come from an older generation when hitch-hiking was much more common than it is now. It is still an innocent and legitimate way to get about and it has to be protected.” 

The teenager was hitching a lift home in the Skibbereen/ Bantry area when Petras Petrikauskas, aged 42, of 23 Newbridge Park, Skibbereen, picked her up. 

He left her off before her destination but returned ten or 15 minutes later and picked her up again.

Detective Garda Martin Bohane said the young woman felt he had a smarmy kind of smile and could not keep his eyes off her. 

He then began asking if she had a boyfriend and talking in a manner which she found strange.

Det. Garda Bohane said Petrikauskas then said to the 17-year-old, “You are giving me a hand-job.” 

The detective said she found it very clear that he was not joking. 

She managed to get out of the car and ran to a house where the lights were on. 

She did not speak to anyone at the house but remained there for a few minutes. She went down to the road and got a lift home from a woman who stopped for her.

It was through the examination of CCTV of traffic that the accused became a person of interest to the investigation and was eventually questioned. 

At first, he denied picking her up but later admitted picking her up and asking her for sex and that she said no to this.

Det Garda Bohane said the accused man was convicted under the Public Order Act for three previous incidents where he masturbated in the presence of teenage girls. 

In one incident he was at a nearby picnic table when the two girls saw him engaged in this act. In another, it happened when he gave them a lift. 

All three of those incidents dated back to 2013.

William Bulman, defence, said the accused was from Lithuania and living in West Work. He gathered €1,200 compensation for her and apologised for his behaviour.

The victim said in an impact statement that she was very frightened by the experience and was since then scared to out on her own at night and would not get in a car with a stranger and had become very aware of men in cars. 

She said she found herself constantly thinking about what had happened in March 2018.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “There was an element of forethought. He gave her a lift, dropped her off and came back. That is an aggravating factor. 

"The nature of his behaviour was very insistent. The verbalisation of what he wanted her to do is disturbing behaviour. It is worrying that he has previous for similar type of behaviour.” 

The judge imposed an 18-month sentence with the last nine months of it suspended.

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