A taxi driver who sexually assaulted a night passenger in his car will be convicted next month.
The victim told gardaí that she fell asleep and woke up to find Gerard Gunnery, 60, with his hand inside her and masturbate herself. She said he then got aggressive, kicked her out of the car and left her on the side of the road.
Gunnery’s attorneys asked Judge Karen O’Connor not to define him as those “ten minutes of a life” that were otherwise “all the best.”
Dominic McGinn SC, who defended himself, said his client’s actions that night were “totally atypical”. He submitted testimonials describing Gunnery as a hard-working “good man” with a “kind heart.”
Gunnery of Ellenfield Road, Whitehall, Dublin pleaded guilty to assaulting the woman in Dublin on December 23, 2017 in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
After a trial on Friday, Judge O’Connor has placed Gunnery in custody until December 11th.
During the hearing, the victim turned to the court and said that a normal girls night out in town turned into a nightmare when she woke up in the front seat of the taxi parked in front of her house.
The neighbors later said to Gardaí that they had heard a woman call: “Get off me” and “Stop, don’t touch me” and saw the driver pull the woman out of the taxi. She yelled that her leg was stuck under the taxi and he came out and “threw her out of the way”.
She was found crying and screaming on the floor. The court heard that she had bruises on her elbows, kneecaps and jaw.
Gunnery made a statement to gardaí claiming that the woman had told him to try and that he would not have touched her if she had not said so.
“I am really sorry. She was drunk. I was sober, ”he said to Gardaí.
In her victim impact statement, the woman told Gunnery that “You took advantage of me when you should have brought me home.”
She said she suffered from crippling guilt and shame and entertained thoughts like “I drank too much, my skirt was too short, my knee-high boots were too inviting”.
She feared that her attacker was still in a taxi and knew where she lived. She still suffers from flashbacks and is upset when she sees a silver cab.
She said last year’s Christmas season was difficult because she was scared of drinking and being “in town” again.
Judge O’Connor told the woman that “this was not your fault” and told her that she had shown great strength during the night and since then.
“I sincerely hope that you get to a point where you can leave this behind,” she said.
Surveillance camera recordings
Detective Sergeant Brian Hunt told Eoin Lawlor BL that the woman had gone out to a bachelorette party that night and decided to go home around 3 a.m.
It was on Harcourt Street in Dublin city center when Gunnery pulled up his taxi. He had two other women in the car and they were going in the same direction as the victim.
She later told gardaí that she was so relieved to get the taxi that she didn’t care that two others were in it.
Mr Lawlor told the court that CCTV footage from the area showed that other taxis with their lights on were ready to take a fare and that this was noteworthy given the circumstances in which Gunnery had stopped his taxi for the woman .
After a brief conversation with the other women, the court heard that the fare had been paid when the woman fell asleep in her seat. She said she woke up when the car pulled up at an ATM in Ballsbridge and the other two women were dropped off.
She said she used the ATM to get cash for the taxi and then got into the front seat of the car. She said the driver put his left hand on her knee and she told him “What are you doing?” And wiped it off.
She fell asleep again and woke up at her target when Gunnery attacked her.
She said she tried to stay in the car to find his ID to identify him and Gunnery went to the passenger door.
Dt Sgt Hunt said a woman had a cast around one arm after a previous fracture and that Gunnery pulled her arm out with enough force to break the strap of her purse.
He left them “in a heap” on the side of the road and got back into his taxi, but then got back out and pulled them out of the way of the car. She managed to snap a picture of the taxi license plate when Gunnery sped off in the car and Gardaí later used it to track him down.
Mr. McGinn told the court that one of the most valuable aspects of admission of guilt for a victim was that “it affirms that what she did was completely impeccable and that the accused was the culprit”.
He handed a “heartfelt” letter from his client in court, in which Gunnery apologized “badly” to the victim.
Gunnery described the submitted job references as “hardworking and trustworthy”. Two close friends, including a community leader, wrote that they were shocked, worried and surprised when they heard of the attack.
Mr McGinn said this was evidence that his behavior that night was atypical and that otherwise he was “a good, upright citizen”.
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