Ap­peal court jails man who sex­u­ally as­saulted elderly care home pa­tients

Irish Independent - - News - Ruaidhri Gi­b­lin

A CARE-worker who sex­u­ally as­saulted two vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents in a care home, and “mis­tak­enly” put a video of one of the as­saults on Face­book, has been sent to jail af­ter his sus­pended sen­tence was found to be too le­nient.

Peter Hil­liard (54), of Bol­brook Grove, Tal­laght, Dublin, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court to two counts of sexual assault at a nurs­ing home in Rath­farn­ham, Dublin, be­tween Feb­ru­ary 2013 and June 2016.

The of­fend­ing came to light in June 2016 when a col­league of Hil­liard’s saw a Face­book video of Hil­liard sex­u­ally as­sault­ing an elderly res­i­dent.

He was given an 18-month sus­pended sen­tence by Judge Karen O’Con­nor on Oc­to­ber 24, 2017.

Le­nient

How­ever, Hil­liard was jailed for 12 months yes­ter­day af­ter the Court of Ap­peal found his sen­tence “un­duly le­nient”.

Giv­ing judg­ment in the three­judge court, Mr Jus­tice John Hedi­gan said the vic­tims were both pa­tients in a nurs­ing home where Hil­liard worked.

Both were suf­fer­ing from pro­found in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties when they were as­saulted.

One, a woman with ad­vanced de­men­tia, was de­scribed as “not liv­ing in the present” and the other some­one who “wouldn’t know what was go­ing on”.

In one in­stance, Hil­liard recorded the assault with a mo­bile phone and up­loaded the video to Face­book, which was im­me­di­ately in­ves­ti­gated.

He claimed he had had only two or three hours of sleep when he “mis­tak­enly” up­loaded it.

The sen­tenc­ing judge noted that the of­fences lacked vi­o­lence and the vic­tims suf­fered no psy­cho­log­i­cal harm.

Mr Jus­tice Hedi­gan said the most strik­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of the of­fence was the egre­gious breach of trust.

He said it was not known what level of com­pre­hen­sion, if any, the women had of the in­dig­ni­ties in­fected upon them.

He said the grad­ual loss of a loved one to de­men­tia was enough for the women’s fam­i­lies, with­out hav­ing this shock­ing event in­flicted upon them.

Mr Jus­tice Hedi­gan said the sen­tenc­ing judge was clearly in er­ror when she char­ac­terised the as­saults as mi­nor.

He said it re­quired in­ter­ven­tion by the Court of Ap­peal.

Mr Jus­tice Hedi­gan, who sat with Mr Jus­tice Ge­orge Birm­ing­ham and Mr Jus­tice Alan Ma­hon, re-sen­tenced Hil­liard to 18 months’ im­pris­on­ment with the fi­nal six months sus­pended.

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