A Donegal man who “sneaked” into an apartment through an unlocked door and raped a sleeping woman has been jailed for four years.
Justice Alex Owens said that Desmond Leitch's incorrect insistence that the victim was a prostitute demonstrated a lack of remorse. He said Leitch had no business entering into the woman's apartment block on the night and had deliberately gone there in search of sex.
"He did not wander into the apartment by some accident. He had a sexual purpose in mind and he was opportunistic with his intention to engage in sexual activity if he could get away with it," said the judge.
A psychologist report handed into court outlined that Leitch claimed that he believed that the victim was an escort.
Justice Owens said that Leitch's insistence that the victim was a prostitute was an attempt to distance himself from his actions and suggested that Leitch had no remorse and blamed the victim for his predicament.
"He knows the truth was that he sneaked into the apartment and subjected the victim to sexual intercourse when she was asleep," he said.
Leitch (32) of Skelpy, Castlefin, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to a single count of rape in a town in Co Donegal, on October 23, 2016. His only previous convictions are for minor road traffic offences.
Detective Garda Bobby Carey told Sean Guerin SC, prosecuting, that Leitch and the victim were “entirely unknown” to each other prior to the offence.
Det Gda Carey said that in the early hours of the morning on the date in question, the victim had returned home from a night out and gone to bed. She later told gardaí she did not believe that she had locked the apartment door.
The woman woke up about half an hour later to find a man on top of her and raping her. She thought at first she was having a dream, but jumped away once she realised what was happening.
When asked what he was doing in her bed, Leitch mumbled something about an escort service. The victim did not have any connection whatsoever with any escort service.
Leitch fled the apartment after a struggle over his phone, during which several buttons on his shirt ripped off. The woman attended hospital where swabs of the man's semen were taken to make a DNA profile which later matched with DNA taken from Leitch.
When interviewed by gardaí, Leitch denied the offences and claimed he was not in the area on the date in question. During a search of his home by gardaí a shirt with missing buttons that matched the description of the victim was found in his wardrobe.
In her victim impact statement, which was read in court by prosecuting counsel, the woman said she took two weeks off work following the incident and “spent the majority of the time in bed crying”.
The woman said she had to re-home a cat she had had for two years because it was in the room on the night and reminds her of the offence. She said she has grown paranoid, causing her to lock the door during the day and lock her bedroom door whenever she is in it.
She said she may be able to find some closure attending counselling sessions now that the trial is coming to an end.
Det Gda Carey agreed with Kenneth Fogarty SC, defending, that his client had made a number of calls to phone numbers associated with the escort service on the date in question.
Mr Fogarty handed in a psychologist's report and outlined that Leitch may be in the mild to moderate range of intellectual disability. He said the offence carried a terrible stigma in the isolated area where his client lived with his family.
Justice Owens noted that Leitch was diagnosed with suffering from schizoaffective disorder but said there was no indication that he was suffering with this when he raped the victim.
He noted that Leitch had denied any involvement in raping the victim and said he was at home in bed on the night but DNA linked him to the victim. The judge said Leitch exposed the victim to pregnancy and STI's.
He said the headline sentence would be ten years if he was of normal intellectual capacity. He set this at seven years because of the significant intellectual impairment, which he said had an impact on Leitch's thinking at the time of the offending.
"This meant he had reduced capacity to process information and sexual boundaries," he said.
Taking into consideration the mitigation factors of a history of mental health difficulties, his sheltered upbringing, and his otherwise general good character, the judge reduced this to five years.
He took another year off in recognition of the guilty plea. Finally Justice Owens imposed a post release supervision period of four years.
Mr Fogarty told Mr Justice Owen that his client was “not capable of making up a yarn” in relation to the sequence of events and that it was unlikely to recur.
He said Leitch had not identified the person who helped him access the website as he thought he would be getting someone into trouble. He submitted there was no forced entry and that his client was accepting full responsibility for what he had done.
Mr Leitch took the stand and when asked what he had to say to the woman he replied: “I am very sorry.” He agreed he understood the damage he had caused to her life and the effect of his offence on his own family’s life.
Mr Fogarty told Leitch that the judge had to protect society and asked him what he wanted the judge to do with him. “Don’t be too hard on me,” replied Leitch.
He told Mr Fogarty he was never going to be in trouble again and confirmed he understood how serious this case was