Derry man sentenced after stealing woman’s underwear

An incident where a man broke into a woman's flat and stole her underwear has been described as 'exceptionally creepy' by a judge at Derry Crown Court.

Judge Philip Babington made his comments during sentencing of Ronan Gillen (29) of Cornshell Fields in Derry who admitted burglary of the flat and assaulting the woman on September 20 2015.

The court was told that on that date the victim was in the flat on her own when Gillen who was then a neighbour called at her door to talk to her about the bins.

A short time later he called back asking the woman to phone a taxi for his brother he then picked her up and then put his arms around her and kissed her on the cheek.

Gillen then squeezed her arm. The woman was 'totally uncomfortable' as she did not have any sort of relationship with Gillen. The woman left the flat and returned later at night and the fire alarm went off.

The court heard this had happened on a regular basis so the woman ignored it.

She was in her bedroom when she heard footsteps approaching the door of her flat and then heard the defendant call her name and bang on the door. At this the woman was frightened and hid under the bed and Gillen forced the door and came into the flat then left again.

The court heard the woman stayed under the bed and Gillen came back and opened a drawer and removed three pairs of her pants.

The woman was 'terrifeid' and called her boyfriend who reported she was 'very distressed' when he came to the flat. Eventually the police were called.

Some months later the stolen pants appeared on a tree outside the woman's flat.

When interviewed Gillen said he broke down the door to check if the woman was in the flat and described the earlier incident as 'a bit of banter.'

Defence counsel Mr. Stephen Mooney said he could offer 'no reasonable, rational explanation' for Gillen's behaviour. He said the defendant wanted to 'unreservedly apologise' to his victim and added that the behaviour was 'creepy.'

In passing sentence Judge Babington echoed the remarks and said it was 'exceptionally creepy.' He said that Gillen claims to have drunk 16 to 18 cans of beer as 'a cure' for the drink he had taken the previous day. He says his state of drunkenness 'may be an explanation but it is no excuse.'

Describing the incident as 'very frightening' for the young woman Judge Babington said it was 'creepy and sinister.' The judge said the woman did 'not want this attention from you and it was most intrusive and unwanted.'

Gillen was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years and a restraining order was imposed for a period of three years preventing him having any contact with the woman or her boyfriend.