A Mayo man who raped a young woman at a house party as she drifted in and out of consciousness on a bathroom floor has been given an eight-year sentence with the final year suspended.
Ciara Mangan, who has waived her anonymity, told the Central Criminal Court how she felt unwell after being handed an open can of cider at the party.
She said Shane Noonan (28) had made a “beeline” for her and guided her into an upstairs bathroom where he raped her.
“I was easy prey, extremely vulnerable and defenceless. My control was taken from me. I stood no chance,” she said. She told the court how he walked out and left her alone on the floor afterwards.
“The absolute disregard for my life is unforgivable,” she said, “I was left to choke on my own vomit that night and am lucky to still be alive.”
Noonan of Castlehilll Park, Turlough Road, Castlebar, Co Mayo pleaded guilty to rape of Ms Mangan at an address in Castlebar, Co Mayo, on May 11th, 2013.
He has no previous convictions.
Noonan and Ms Mangan were both aged 18 years old at the time and were co-workers.
In the aftermath of the rape, Ms Mangan said she was subjected to “rape comments” and “rape songs” by colleagues in her then-workplace when the owner was absent.
“I get very distressed and emotional thinking about this abuse on top of what had happened to me,” she said, “To say this was absolute hell on earth is putting it lightly.”
“I felt confused, embarrassed, disregarded, bullied, stressed, overwhelmed and that I wouldn’t be believed,” she said.
She said she began to doubt herself “because colleagues found it funny and a source of entertainment".
“This torture and abuse is one of the reasons I didn’t report the rape to the gardaí sooner than I did,” she said.
Ms Mangan described the adverse effects the offence continues to have on her life including flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and issues with trust and relationships.
“As a result of being raped, I feel so unbelievably degraded, tarnished and violated,” she said.
“I hope to move on, although I can never forget,” she told the court. “This will be where I take back control of my life that was stolen from me. My life that has been in Shane Noonan’s hands for far too long. It was never his to destroy in the first place.”
Passing sentence on Monday, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said it had been a cold, predatory, and premeditated rape of a young woman in an obviously vulnerable condition.
She noted Ms Mangan has no assistance from her assailant after the rape. She set a headline sentence of 10 years.
She noted a probation report outlined Noonan accepts responsibility for the rape but says he can't remember it, recalling events before and afterwards and offering no explanation why.
Ms Justice Creedon noted in mitigation Noonan had no mental health or addiction issues and was in a stable relationship with no dependents.
A forensic psychological report placed him at low risk of reoffending. She said his guilty plea was the most significant mitigating factor.
She also noted his apology and lack of subsequent and previous offending.
Ms Justice Creedon imposed a sentence of eight years with the final year suspended on conditions including an assessment for a sex offender treatment programme.
Ms Mangan read her own victim statement to the court outlining the damaging and continuing effects on her and her family’s life.
“I always say that the moment I was raped, my soul left my body. Part of Ciara was stolen, changed, damaged, hurt and destroyed. I will never be the same Ciara I was before the rape.”
She described how she had been reluctant to go to the party but had been encouraged to go by others.
She said within a short time of arriving at the party she had been raped, while it was still bright outside.
She played the events of the night over in her mind, questioning herself about why she didn’t say no to going to the party, why did she not open her own drink, and why didn’t she bring a friend.
“I wish every day that I could turn back time and change one of those decisions,” she said. “I was given a life sentence the day Shane Noonan raped me and I have to live with this pain for the rest of my life. There was no choice in the matter. It doesn’t go away.”
She thanked family and friends who have supported her through the process, the Gardaí and the Rape Crisis Centre.
“I finally feel like a survivor now, rather than a victim,” Ms Mangan said.
By Fiona Ferguson
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