Former Russian soldier based in Letterkenny avoids jail for sexual assault

Central Criminal Court

A former Russian Special Forces solider who said he was suffering flashbacks when he wrestled a teenage girl to the ground and sexually assaulted her at Dublin Airport has avoided jail.

The 51 year-old Lithuanian man told gardaí he was having flashbacks to his time with the Russian military in Siberia and believed he was protecting his girlfriend from falling bombs.

Liudas Vaisvilas, with an address at Glenveagh Court, Letterkenny, Co Donegal pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal to sexual assault at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport on April 10, 2014.

Hours after he was released from garda custody following the incident, Vaisvilas was arrested for sexually assaulting a young girl in a similar way at Eddie Rocket's Diner on O'Connell Street.

Judge Patrick McCartan had previously remanded Vaisvilas in custody for a full psychiatric assessment after he said he was concerned that whatever was troubling him could lead him to offend again.

The psychiatric assessment concluded that Vaisvilas was in a temporary state of mind resulting from a combination of extreme tiredness and recent bereavements.

Yesterday, the judge suspended a sentence of three years on condition he keeps the peace for that time and obeys any instructions of the Probation Services. Vaisvilas has been in custody since the offence because he was unable to pay the €1,500 required under his High Court bail.

Judge McCartan noted that he is at a low risk of reoffending and is remorseful.

He said it must have been a huge shock for the victim to be set on by this huge man and thrown to the ground and groped over her clothes.

Garda Tanya Shinkins told Noel Carroll BL, defending, that the 19-year-old victim was sitting in the airport at about 10:30 waiting for a flight when Vaisvilas walked right up and put his face very close to her.

He asked her repeatedly if she had the internet and then sat down beside her and grabbed her between her legs.

The girl was in shock and started screaming for help but a man sitting near her seemed also too shocked to help. The girl went running towards two airport officials for help but Vaisvilas rugby-tackled her to the ground.

He had one hand between her legs and the other on her bottom and the girl said she felt helpless and couldn't breathe as he was so strong.

Airport authorities and members of the public managed to get Vaisvilas off the girl and he was arrested shortly after midnight.

Vaisvilas said he was shocked when shown CCTV footage of the incident and wanted to apologise and explain to the girl that he had been “crazy” and “confused in his mind”.

Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said his client's mother and another relative had died recently, and he had missed a flight home to Lithuania for a funeral.

He had not slept for the previous five or six days, had drunk some vodka, and was having flashbacks to when he worked in the Russian army, counsel said.

Vaisvilas was previously sentenced to a six month suspended sentence for the second sexual assault in Eddie Rockets

Vaisvilas has lived in Ireland for nine years and worked at a meat-packing plant in Letterkenny.