Donegal woman speaks out after rape, assault and coercive control hell

July 28, 2022

A Donegal woman has urged people to seek help from violent and manipulative relationships after a man destroyed her life over six weeks.

Sinead O’Neill from Killybegs fell victim to Dean Ward, aged 36, formerly of Ballintlea, Hollyfort, Gorey, Co Wexford in 2019.

Ward was today handed a 17-year jail sentence for 12 offences including the rape, false imprisonment and assault of Ms O’Neill. He was also sentenced for threatening to kill and coercively controlling a woman.

RTE News reports that Ward “had effectively moved into Ms O’Neill’s home after their first date and through a combination of lies and emotional manipulation insinuated himself into her life.”

Ms O’Neill told the court he took just six weeks to destroy her life. He raped her, tied her up, interfered with her finances, her social media, became violent during confrontations and restricted her interaction with friends and family.

Ms O’Neill escaped from Ward after confiding in her boss and creating a plan to call the gardaí.

Ward was arrested in July 2019. At the Central Criminal Court this morning, Justice Kerida Naidoo set a sentence of 18 years for rape, with the final year suspended. He imposed a four year term, to run concurrently, for an offence of coercive control, which has a maximum sentence of five years.

Speaking outside the court, Ms O’Neill said: “I am relieved that justice was done today and I can now try and move on with my life. In my case it took six weeks for this man to take away all my independence and completely  take control of my life. I felt helpless but I now know there is a lot of support out there for women in these situations. I would like to say to any woman in a similar situation to please reach out. Support is there. I would like to thank my family, friends, garda and legal team for their dedication in my case.”

Read the report in full at:

Anyone with any information relating to Coercive Control is asked to contact their local Garda Station or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

An Garda Síochána also remind members of the public of some of the various services catered to assist anyone who may be a victim of Coercive Control:

Women’s Aid National Helpline – 1800341900 –
Amen – 046 9023718 –
Crime Victims Helpline – 116 006 –
Rape Crisis Network Ireland – 1800778888 –
Donegal Domestic Violence Service Helpline : 1800 262 677