A 36-year-old Tipperary man who sat beside a 21-year-old student on a bench by The Lough went on to show her pornography, kiss her, chase her and sexually assault her on a summer’s evening.
Conor Ryan from Bansha Road, Tipperary Town, has just been sentenced to three years in prison with the last year suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
He pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning the victim and sexually assaulting her by touching her breasts and kissing her lips.
A co-accused whom he met on the evening, 21-year-old Mohammed Kabeer Omari of Ard Ross estate, Pouladuff Road, played what was described as a much lesser part in the young woman’s ordeal but he did admit the offence of falsely imprisoning her by kissing her on the lips.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin sentenced him to an 18 months sentence which was fully suspended.
The judge said that the false imprisonment did not have the usual context of a room or building and occurred in open spaces.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said that for an intelligent man with a degree in philosophy and politics, Ryan showed a distinct lack of insight into his offending behaviour.
“To get signals wrong to this extent on the bench is one thing but the running around The Lough, taking her phone without any dawning that he was not welcome is very worrying.
The judge referred to Ryan ‘frog-marching’ the victim away from The Lough with overbearing persistence.
Detective Garda Stephen Fuller said the victim was sitting on a bench at The Lough at 9.30pm on July 20 last year when the accused sat down beside her on the bench.
He said Ryan manhandled the student, he took her mobile phone, she managed to retrieve her phone and ran. She was chased by the accused and he caught her and put his hands on her breasts.
UCC Student Liaison Officer at the time, Jamie Fraser, was in the area with another student, Dylan Murray, and they became suspicious of what was occurring and they intervened to protect the young woman and they also called the gardaí.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said the pleas of guilty by Conor Ryan and Mohammed Kabeer Omari was of enormous significance to the victim sparing her the trauma of having to give evidence at a trial. The pleas of guilty came on the day that a trial was about to commence.
Sinead Behan, barrister for Ryan, said of the evening, “They were sitting talking for half an hour. He thought matters were proceeding in a particular way. There was alcohol and the smoking of a cigarette.”
Ms Behan said the woman was free to leave at a number of times.
“(Later) he thought they were going back to her apartment. That is why he was running with her. He thought it was consensual. He thought they were running away from the co-defendant (who arrived at the bench after some time) and that this man was hampering him,” Ms Behan said.
She said Ryan, who had no criminal convictions, misread signals on the bench. However, the judge said that even allowing for that, there was a marked deterioration when he showed her pornography of people having sex on his phone and then chased her, held on to her and took her phone.
Donal O’Sullivan barrister for the Afghani national, Omari, said the young man had no previous convictions and his main involvement was to kiss the young woman once.
Det. Garda Fuller said this defendant was further back from the main offences at all times.