€20m debt ruling against hotelier serving five-year rape sentence


Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor, Irish Independent – 31 August 2013


A FORMER hotel owner serving a five-year jail term for rape has been hit with a €20.2m debt judgment while behind bars.

Brian Shaughnessy, formerly of Ballywinna, Craughwell, Co Galway, raped a young female employee on July 26, 2010, in the presidential suite of the Loughrea Hotel and Spa, which he owned at the time.

Now Ulster Bank, which appointed receivers over the hotel last October, has served him with a judgment of €20.2m courtesy of the governor of Wheatfield Prison, Cloverhill, Clondalkin in Dublin.

The debt was registered last week according to 'Stubbs Gazette', the credit bureau and debt-collection agency.

The separated father of three was sentenced to six years with one year suspended last June after he was found guilty of raping the woman in the suite.

Earlier in the night, he had asked if he could confide in her, and was buying her drinks.

The rape had a devastating impact on the young woman, who told the Central Criminal Court in a harrowing victim-impact statement that Shaughnessy had taken her innocence, confidence and trust. She said she became uptight afterwards and lost interest in her appearance and eating. She said she lashed out at the slightest thing and developed panic attacks.

She became afraid to fall asleep in case Shaughnessy was in her room. When she did fall asleep, she said she suffered nightmares about being trapped in a room with a mattress and being raped by men.

WORRIED


"Physically, mentally and emotionally I was raped," she said.

The young woman added that she had been worried about getting pregnant and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

"You never took responsibility for what you did," she told Shaughnessy. She said he had taken her innocence, confidence and trust but she now had it back.

"I am handing back the guilt, blame and responsibility for my rape to its rightful owner. It is no longer mine to carry," she said.

Defending Shaughnessy, senior counsel Martin Giblin said that he had run a successful business, made a positive contribution to his community and provided good-quality employment for up to 100 people.

He said that once the economic crash came, Shaughnessy "lost everything" and had now been "deprived of the society of his family".

Mr Giblin said Shaughnessy was a person of previous good character and the verdict had a serious effect on him, but his main concern was the effect on his family and children.

Sentencing Shaughnessy, trial judge Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan accepted that Shaughnessy had actively supported and contributed to the development of his local community through his involvement with the GAA and his business, and that he was involved in the upbringing of his young family.

The judge also pointed out that the adverse publicity attaching to the case was "punitive" for the defendant.

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