A care assistant who sexually assaulted a patient while working at the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin has been sentenced to two years in prison with six months suspended.

Folajimmy Awode, 31, of Ballinteer House, Tyrellstown, Dublin, denied the offence in November 2013 but was convicted by a jury last month.

Awode was working as a part-time care assistant in the victim’s ward and had cleaned the toilet on the evening of the assault at her request.

Before going to sleep around 11pm, the woman, who cannot be identified, had taken a muscle relaxant for her back.

She first awoke to find herself being sexually assaulted but said because she was in hospital she closed her eyes, only to find she was being abused again.

She then turned over and saw Awode standing by her bed and moving his hand away from her body.

"I looked at him," she told the court. "He looked totally stunned and just took off," she said.

Another patient testified that she saw the care assistant come into the ward three times that night and go to the victim's bed after she had turned off her reading light.

A jury found Awode guilty by a majority verdict after a three-day trial last month.

The father-of-two, who was granted residency after he came to Ireland aged 17 from Nigeria seeking asylum, has previous convictions for dangerous driving and not having insurance.

Judge Patricia Ryan said there was an element of planning and pre-meditation to the crime. She said the breach of trust was another aggravating factor.

She sentenced Awode to two years in prison, suspending the final six months because of the extra hardship of custody for someone not from this country and his previously good employment record.

In a statement this evening the Mater Private Hospital said Awode had garda clearance but a subsequent investigation and disciplinary hearing resulted in his employment being terminated.

It also said it deeply regrets the hurt and upset the incident caused.