A man who repeatedly raped a teenager with a mild intellectual disability after accosting her on the street at night has been jailed for six and a half years.
Costel Pirvu, 39, formerly of Loughrea, Co Galway, was found guilty of three counts of rape and one of false imprisonment after a nine-day trial at the Central Criminal Court last year.
He continues to maintain his innocence.
Detective Garda Adrian Fehily told Éilis Brennan SC, prosecuting, that the offence took place at a town in the west of Ireland in the early hours of 4 February 2018.
The woman, aged 19 at the time, had been out socialising with some friends who walked her half way home.
She told gardaí she saw a man she did not know looking at her and she ran, but he grabbed her and forced her against a black jeep and then to the ground before he raped her.
The woman said Pirvu refused to let her go home, threatened her and forced her to go back to his apartment.
She said she felt if she did not do what he wanted, he would hurt her.
CCTV footage showed Pirvu and the victim walking back towards his apartment, where she told gardaí he raped her a further two times and finally let her go the next morning when a friend of his walked in.
The woman said she then ran home crying and upset and told her mother, who brought her to the garda station to make a complaint and then to a Sexual Assault and Treatment Unit (SATU).
A SATU report established that the victim had sustained bruises and scrapes to her face, back, breasts, arms, legs and genital area.
Handing down sentence on Friday, Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy noted Pirvu raped the woman on the street with force and then took her to his home and raped her twice more in circumstances where she felt under threat.
She noted Pirvu has a history of violent offending, including convictions for robbery and attempted rape.
The judge said that although the woman was a vulnerable person, there was no evidence Pirvu was aware of this fact and that he had never met her before. It was a "chance encounter" the judge said.
She handed down a ten-year sentence and suspended the final three and a half years. She backdated it to when Pirvu went into custody in August 2018.
The court heard Pirvu was arrested on the evening of the attack, his apartment was searched and a DNA sample taken.
He initially denied having met the victim or having left his apartment that night, but when gardaí later told him his semen sample matched DNA found on the victim's body, he said his solicitor had told him to deny everything.
He then admitted meeting the woman but said she had voluntarily gone back to his house where they had had consensual sex.
In a victim impact report read out in court on her behalf, the victim said she feels everything in her life has been going against her since "that horrible night".
She said the accused came behind her, grabbed her and dragged her down the street and kept putting his hand over her mouth so she couldn’t breathe and feared for her life.
"I felt like a piece of meat," she wrote in her victim impact report.
"I tried to fight him and I tried to run away but he was much stronger, he said he was going to kill me if I didn’t do what he wanted me to do."
The woman said she has told her counsellor that although the bruises on the outside were healing, "something on the inside of me was broken and could never be fixed".
The court heard that she does not feel safe anymore and is all the time watching for who is behind her.
She cannot eat or sleep properly and suffers with PTSD, nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks.
She said she has become very depressed and suicidal and was self-harming, telling the court that she felt that her life was no longer her own.
The woman said it had been "horrible" to have to tell the story over and over again to so many people and that being questioned in court made her feel like she was the one who had done something wrong.
She said it was also horrible to have pictures of her shown to strangers in the court and that she felt weak and sick to her stomach and vomited on the way home.
The court heard that Pirvu has three previous convictions in Romania and Germany, including for robbery, attempted rape and assault.
Bernard Madden SC, defending, said his client had arrived in Ireland from Romania in December 2017 and first worked in car-washing and the construction of wooden pallets.
Mr Madden said the only visits Pirvu gets in prison are from his solicitor.
He said his client had various medical issues including haemorrhoids, stomach and ear problems which he says have not been treated in prison.
The judge was critical of the fact Pirvu was not initially advised by gardaí of his right to a solicitor, noting there was a significant language barrier and a failure to notify Pirvu of his rights.