Sex attacker free after Judge accepts “steroids” explanation

December 16, 2020

A man who admitted sexually assaulting two women in a bar has walked free from court after a Judge accepted that medication had completely affected his behaviour.

Care-assistant Matthew McDonald approached the women in The Reveller Bar in Donegal Town on July 27th, 2017 and offered to buy them drinks.

He bought three Jaeggerbombers but as he was chatting to the women he assaulted them putting his hand up one of their skirts, touching another woman’s breasts and bottom.

The women, who were aged 17 and 24 at the time, were shocked and pleaded with a barmaid to ask McDonald, now aged 39, to leave.

He eventually left and the women called Gardai and told them that the man had left to go the Sky Nightclub at the Abbey Hotel.

McDonald was spoken to in the nightclub by gardai and attended Donegal Town Garda station the following denied and initially denied all the claims.

However, he was left shocked when shown CCTV footage, began to abuse female detective Fiona Kelly and then tried to escape from Garda custody.

In their victim impact statements, both women said they no longer can wear skirts and feel they can only wear jeans and have lost their confidence.

Both rarely go out and when they see McDonald they become frightened again.

McDonald pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault when he appeared at Donegal Circuit Court.

However, the court was told that McDonald remembers nothing of the specific allegations from the night.

He told Gardai that he vaguely remembered dropping change at the bar, bending down to pick it up and then brushing off a woman who shouted ‘rape’ before running away.

His barrister, Peter Nolan, instructed by Rory O’Brien, said his client suffered from a syndrome since 2014 called Wegener’s granulomatosis which affected blood flow to many of his organs.

Because of this, he was on a high dose of steroids which had changed before these incidents.

Letters were read in court from Consultant Professor John Hayes, a physician who was familiar with McDonald.

He said he thought the cortisone steroids taken by McDonald certainly had an effect on the accused man’s mental status.

This was backed up by McDonald’s own GP, Dr Breen.

The court was also told that McDonald was admitted to Cavan General Hospital around the same time because he was not himself and was suffering from confusion.

Other references were also read out in court saying that this was completely out of character for McDonald and that he was a kind and decent person.

The court was also told that McDonald had saved up €6,000 which he wanted to give to his victims as compensation for their ordeal.

Passing sentence Judge John Aylmer said it appeared that McDonald was extremely disinhibited not just on the consumption of alcohol but also because of a negative reaction to medication for a long-standing medical condition.

He said the offences must be considered at the lower end of the sexual assault scale and that they might attract a sentence of 12 months in prison.

However, he said the mitigating factors included the fact that McDonald had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty.

He added that it was also clear that a high dose of steroids had caused him to suffer some delirium thought to cause confusion and a change in general behaviour.

Mr McDonald was clearly shocked when shown CCTV footage of the incident and he also enjoyed a good work history, added Judge Aylmer.

He said that because of the very peculiar medical aspect to the case, the interests of justice would not be served by a custodial sentence nor did it lend itself to a community service order.

He also noted that Mr McDonald had offered €6,000 by way of compensation between the two victims.

He said he was making an order to discharge the accused conditionally to be of good behaviour for 12 months and that the €6,000 compensation be offered between both victims.

He added that if they do not wish to accept the money then he can give direction on where it can go.



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