12 Aug 2022

Watch: Donegal woman speaks out after her rapist was jailed for 17 years

Sinéad O'Neill from Killybegs said she hoped that her case would encourage anyone out there in an abusive relationship to seek help

A man who raped, assaulted and coercively controlled a Donegal woman in the course of a six-week relationship has been jailed for 17 years.

On various occasions, Dean Ward, 36, of Ballintlea, Hollyfort, Gorey, Co Wexford, sprayed mace into the woman’s face, tied her up, choked her and then raped her, threatened her with a hammer and punched her in the face. He controlled her access to friends and family, took over her online banking and monitoring her whereabouts and her mobile phone and removed her contraceptive device as she slept.

At the Central Criminal Court on Thursday morning, Justice Kerida Naidoo suspended the final year of an 18-year sentence for the most serious rape offence. He imposed a four-year term, to run concurrently, for an offence of coercive control, which has a maximum sentence of five years.

Outside the court, Sinéad O'Neill, from Killybegs, said she was speaking out to show others that support was available. She said that she felt stuck in fear but that she received “amazing support” from the moment she reached out to gardaí for help.

Garda Superintendent Karen Duffy of Ballyshannon Garda station said the offence of coercive control is a relatively new one and she would encourage any women or men in an abusive relationship to come to gardaí.

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