A college dropout who was caught on security cameras trying to rape a homeless man in the street is to leave custody after his jail time was reduced by one year on appeal.
William Dollard (32) was jailed for four years after a jury found him guilty of the sexual assault and attempted anal rape of a 61-year-old male at a location in Co Cork on May 30, 2017.
Dollard later launched appeals against both conviction and the sentence of five years and six months with the final 18 months suspended, which had been handed down by Mr Justice Paul McDermott at the Central Criminal Court in June 2020.
Although the appeal against the conviction was dismissed, the Court of Appeal reduced the appellant’s jail time by one year, meaning he was now free to go after it emerged he had been in custody for just over three years.
It had been submitted to the court that Mr Justice McDermott erred by holding that Dollard’s arrest under Section 24 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 had “exercised lawfully by gardaí”.
It was also submitted that the judge erred by holding that gardaí had lawfully seized his clothing after his arrest and “consequently the evidence obtained was admissible”, while the length of the sentence imposed had been excessive.
In a written judgment delivered by Mr Justice John Edwards, sitting with Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy (in absentia), the three-judge court found the appellant’s “complaint based on the lawfulness of the arrest to be wholly misconceived”.
The arresting garda, the judge noted, had “legitimate concerns” after viewing CCTV footage of the attempted rape and the trial judge was correct to rule that Dollard’s arrest had been lawful.
Regarding the appeal against the severity of sentence, Mr Justice Edwards noted a “custodial sentence was undoubtedly required in this case”.
But the judge also noted that due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances, the appellant, a former university student, had “become homeless and was now on the margins of society”.
With this in mind, Mr Justice Edwards said the court was going to increase the suspended portion of Dollard’s sentence from 18 months to two years and six months – leaving the appellant with a three-year custodial term.
The judge then informed Dollard that because his original sentence had been backdated to February 2019, he was due to be released from custody “imminently” and should contact his solicitor.