A judge this week described as a “web of lies” the evidence given by a Listowel man charged with sexual assault on a woman in the town last year, before sentencing him to seven years in prison for the offence. Two years of the seven-year sentence were suspended.
There were extraordinary scenes in Tralee courthouse at the sentencing of Danny Foley, Meen, Listowel, on Wednesday, after he had been found guilty by a jury of sexual assault on a female on June 15th last year.
Mr Foley hung his head and wiped a tear from his eye as he heard his sentence and was told he is also to be placed on the sexual assault register for life.
Mr Foley’s mother, who was in the public gallery, screamed hysterically when the sentence was announced, and relatives rushed around her in support.
Judge Donagh McDonagh ordered that anyone who commented on the sentence should leave the court, and the woman was assisted out of the courtroom.
Before the judge passed the sentence on Wednesday morning, approximately fifty supporters filed up, one-by-one to the dock, where Mr Foley sat between two prison wardens.
They shook his hand, hugged him, and many were crying. They all sat in the gallery as As he delivered his sentence, Judge Donagh McDonagh referred to what he described as Mr Foley’s “revolting assertions” and “odious language” used regarding his victim.
The judge said that his claims that he engaged in a mutual sexual act with the victim were designed to “add insult to injury”, and to demean and degrade the woman.
He said that Mr Foley’s behaviour “certainly gave lie” to statements from two character witnesses.
Listowel businessman Dermot O’Mahony had said Mr Foley was “inoffensive, courteous and calm” in his dealings with others. Fr Sean Sheehy, the Parish Priest of Castlegregory, said Mr Foley had the highest regard for women and didn’t have an abusive bone in his body.
Judge McDonagh described Mr Foley’s evidence as “self-serving” and referred to his “spinning his web of lies”. “It is quite clear the jury didn’t accept his evidence,” said Judge McDonagh.
“Not alone the lies he told were revolting but the language used by him in describing his victim and referring to her as ‘your wan’ when he knew well who she was, was equally so.
“He embarked on a further series of lies to gardai that is simply not credible as he later admitted he told lies. There is something particularly odious about his allegations against the victim and it seem the accused wished to add insult to injury he humiliated her and demeaned her in the eyes of the jury and public.’
Foley gave graphic description to the jury about what he claimed were consensual sexual acts.
Judge McDonagh said it was evident from the demeanour of the victim and her inability to recall all events clearly that what happened was not consensual.
“No reasonable man could believe a girl or woman in a condition like this could reasonably consent to a sexual encounter of any kind,” he said.
“From the medical evidence it was clear that she suffered extensive bruising, and numerous scratches consistent with being dragged.”
Judge McDonagh said that the woman, who gave a victim impact report and spoke of her trauma since the assault, showed remarkable dignity in the circumstances.
The victim’s two-page statement said that for a long time after the incident she didn’t trust men and couldn’t bear to be in the same room as them.
She said she felt insecure, lost her confidence and was very uncomfortable. She was on anti depressants and couldn’t sleep at night due to the nightmares.
She was unable to have a bath on her own and has to call her sister for help. She said she still feels restricted in her life and fells people are talking about her.
Judge McDonagh concluded that the man showed little remorse and had not apologised “There is no doubt he intended to commit this assault,” he said.
The jury during the three day trial had heard that both met in a local nightclub. The woman had a number of drinks and when he bought her a Black Russian shot, she felt sick and wanted to go home.
Mr Foley accompanied her and after initially walking a distance he carried her towards the rear of a car park, where gardai later found him leaning over her.
She was half-naked and semi-conscious, and was removed to hospital in a very distressed state.
Foley initially said he had come across her as he relieved himself, but later told gardai he had lied, and claimed they had been together consensually. There was no clinical evidence of sexual assault.