June 2013

Former hotel owner sentenced to six years for rape of employee after staff party

A former Galway hotel owner has been given a six year sentence for the rape of an employee following a staff party.

Brian Shaughnessy (47) raped the young woman in the presidential suite of the Loughrea Hotel and Spa after asking her earlier in the night if he could confide in her and buying her drinks.

He was the owner of the hotel at the time. Shaughnessy, with an address at Ballywinna, Craughwell, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape of the girl at the Lough Rea Hotel and Spa in Galway on July 26th, 2010, but was convicted by a jury following a trial in March of this year.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan today suspended the final year of the six-year sentence on condition that Shaughnessy be of good behaviour and keep the peace for a period of one year post-release.

The judge noted that the accused had not accepted the jury’s verdict of guilty, and said he would suspend one further year of the six-year sentence on the condition that Shaughnessy undertakes the ’Better Lives’ rehabilitation programme for sex offenders while he is in prison.

Mr Justice Sheehan said he took into the account the seriousness of the offence and the effect it had had on the young victim and on her education, particularly the depression she had suffered as a result of the rape.

However he also said he accepted the various character references that had been submitted on behalf of the accused, which indicated that his actions on the night in question had been out of character.

Mr Justice Sheehan accepted that Shaughnessy had actively supported and contributed to the development of his local community both through his involvement with the GAA and his business, and that he was very much involved in the upbringing of his young family.

The judge also pointed out that the adverse publicity attaching to the case was “punitive” for the defendant.

During the trial, the young woman outlined in a victim impact statement the effect of the rape on her life and family.

She told the court: “From the moment I left the room I was changed.”

She said she became uptight afterwards and lost interest in her appearance and eating. She said she lashed out at the slightest thing and developed panic attacks.

She became afraid to fall asleep in case Shaughnessy was in her room. When she did fall asleep she said she suffered nightmares about being trapped in a room with a mattress and being raped by men.

“Physically, mentally and emotionally I was raped. I am a real person who was raped ….. I am your daughter, sister and friend,” she said.

She said she had been worried about getting pregnant and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

She had to wait a week to get the all clear and said she should not have been going through that at her age.

“You never took responsibility for what you did,” she told Shaughnessy.

She said he had taken her innocence, confidence and trust but she now had it back.

“I am handing back the guilt, blame and responsibility for my rape to its rightful owner. It is no longer mine to carry,” she said.

Martin Giblin SC, defending, handed in testimonials and a number of reports into court on his client’s behalf. He said local business and professional people in the area spoke highly of Shaughnessy.

Mr Giblin said Shaughnessy had run a successful business, made a positive contribution to his community and provided good quality employment for up to 100 people. He said that once the crash came Shaughnessy “lost everything” and has now been “deprived of the society of his family”.

Mr Giblin said Shaughnessy was a person of previous good character and the jury verdict has had a serious effect on him but his main concern is the effect on his family and children.

He said Shaughnessy continues to assert his innocence. Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan ordered that Shaughnessy be placed on the sex offenders’ register. The sentence was backdated to March 22nd 2013, when Shaughnessy went into custody.