Four extra months for attack on Cork prison officer

Four extra months for attack on Cork prison officer
Cells and landing area in Cork Prison. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A PRISON officer was attacked by a prisoner serving a jail term for raping a young woman in a park, and yesterday he had four months added to the sentence for the assault on the officer.

Keith Aherne, aged 25, pleaded guilty at Cork District Court yesterday to carrying out the assault on the prison officer at B1 landing in Cork Prison on July 4, 2017.

Inspector James Hallahan outlined the background to the offence, and the prison officer told Judge Con O’Leary that he was punched in the face, suffering a split lip, but that, more significantly for him, he ended up with two bulging discs at the back of his neck that continue to cause him problems.

Judge O’Leary said that even though it was somewhat unrealistic in terms of the overall sentence — as Aherne was already serving 10 years — there had to be some additional penalty imposed on a prisoner assaulting a prison officer. “In the interests of discouraging Mr Aherne (or other prisoners) from attacking a prison officer I will impose a four-month sentence consecutive to what he is serving,” the judge said.

Judge O’Leary said that while there would be an understandable strain in any relationship between prisoner and prison officer, there had to be respect for the officer. He said this was important so that there would be no further difficulties and that this was in the interests of both prisoners and prison officers.

Michael Quinlan, defence solicitor, said the prisoner’s grandmother had died and he was not allowed to attend the funeral. “He was aggrieved and he became uncooperative. He accepts there was a scuffle and he would have hit the prison officer,” Mr Quinlan said.

The incident occurred when a meal was being served to the prisoner in his cell. He pushed his way out of the cell. When the injured party saw him on the corridor he told him he should not be out of his cell and should return to his cell.

A number of officers were returning him to his cell when there was a scuffle inside the cell. Aherne punched the officer directly to the face causing the injuries.

Aherne, who previously lived at Sawmill Lane, Sawmill Street, Cork was convicted of rape arising out of evidence that he held the victim down and watched while another man raped her. The victim had been drinking with friends in the park and fell asleep. Her friends left some time later but the woman was anxious to find her phone and stayed in the park. The two men stayed behind and offered to help her look for the phone and asked her to, “do us a favour, we can do you a favour”.

She was sitting and crying over her phone when the attack began. The two men tried to kiss her simultaneously and she leaned back to get away from them. Aherne then grabbed her by the shoulder and she fell back onto her stomach. Aherne held her down while the other man raped her.

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