Man who contacted woman by social media sexually assaulted her at party

June 12, 2024

A Milford man who sexually assaulted a woman after noticing she was out socialising after seeing pictures of her social media will be sentenced later this year.

Seamus Ward, a 37-year-old of Drumkern, Milford, appeared before Letterkenny Circuit Court in connection with the incident on September 6, 2018.

Ward has pleaded guilty to the offence.

Previously, there were reporting restrictions imposed in the case, which meant that Ward could not be named.

However, Ms Fiona Crawford BL, barrister for the State, told the court that the victim wished to waive her anonymity, meaning that Ward can be identified.

Sergeant Gerard Dalton told the court that the incident occurred in September, 2018.

Sergeant Dalton said the woman was socialising in the Mulroy Woods Hotel on the night in question when after posting pictures on her Snapchat and Instagram accounts, she received a Snapchat message from Ward.

Ward and a friend subsequently went to a house party with the victim, who was also accompanied by a friend.

At one stage, the women tried to lift Ward out of an armchair. One of the women gave a phone to Ward’s friend to record ‘as she thought it was very funny’.

She instructed Ward to go to bed in the spare room.

When the victim later woke up, she described how Ward was beside her in bed and it ‘took a moment to realise what was happening’.

Ward was described as having his hand between the victim’s legs, groping her and placing his fingers inside the victim’s vagina.

The woman told gardai that she screamed at Ward: “What the fuck are you doing?” before pushing him in the chest.

She alleged that Ward responded: “I thought that you were someone else.”

The woman shouted at Ward: “Why the fuck did you have your hands down my pants?”

She screamed for him to get out of the house and Ward was alleged to have responded: “So what if I did”. At this point, the woman said she “lost it completely”.

Sergeant Dalton said that the accounts of two other persons who were present were consistent with what the victim outlined. One of those persons confirmed an account from the victim that Ward referred to her as ‘a psycho’.

The woman told gardai that she rang another friend who advised her to make contact with gardai.

She told how she ‘hit drink and drugs hard’ but lodged a complaint in January, 2019.

The victim said she attended White Oaks and received a text message from Ward after she left treatment there.

When the substance of the allegation was put to Ward, he denied it. He also denied calling the victim a psycho.

He told gardai that he was out in a bar in Milford playing poker. When asked about the allegations, he told investigating officers: “That definitely didn’t happen. That’s all I can say about that.”

A victim impact statement on behalf of the woman was handed into court. The victim was not present in court and did not wish for her statement to be read out. A copy was handed in to Judge John Aylmer.

The court heard that Ward has previous convictions for assault causing harm and for dangerous driving causing death.

Ward was put in the witness box by his barrister, Mr Colm Smyth BL. Ward said he wanted to tell his victim that he wished to ‘express shame and regret for the trauma and for the suffering I have caused you – and I am truly sorry for that’.

Ward said his life ‘spiralled out of control’ after he was convicted for dangerous driving causing death and added: “I am just not coping with my emotions.”

Mr Smyth said his client pleaded guilty, albeit at a late stage. He said Ward has ‘had a lot of issues in his life’.

“This was not premeditated,” Mr Smyth said. “However, Mr Ward drunk carries the same responsibilities as Mr Ward sober. This wasn’t a premeditated act. He has avoided the necessity for the complainant to give evidence. He has shown remorse for his actions and tendered a public apology.

“While he fully accepts that his guilty plea was somewhat late in the day, he has come to a realisation on this matter.”

Testimonials from Ward’s current partner and from a prospective employer were handed into court.

Mr Smyth asked for the court to be as lenient as it could and asked for Ward’s previous traumatic event to be taken into account.

Judge Aylmer adjourned the case for finalisation until the October sitting of Letterkenny Circuit Court.