Nenagh Court: Convicted Tipperary rapist gets suspended sentence for trespass at house
A Tipperary man who had served 13 years of a 15-year prison sentence for rape has been given a suspended sentence for trespass on a property in Nenagh.
Joseph Cummins, 34, and who is originally from Nenagh, was charged with the offence at St Flannan’s Street, Nenagh, on January 5, 2021.
Mr Cummins had been released from prison on New Year’s Eve.
He had been granted bail by the High Court earlier this year for the trespass offence and ordered to stay out of Nenagh save for court appearances.
A probation report had been ordered on Mr Cummins, but when the case came before Judge Elizabeth MacGrath on October 15, she said she could not deliberate on its findings unless Mr Cummins was present in court and adjourned sentencing.
Part of Mr Cummins’ defence had relied on evidence that he had been followed by a crowd and had gone on to the property to escape them.
However, Det Garda Paudie O’Leary had outlined to Judge Elizabeth MacGrath that the defendant’s last act before going to prison had been to break into the same house.
He said that he was aware that Mr Cummins had been under pressure and had been living in a deserted shed on the outskirts of the town.
“He wasn’t wanted in his parents’ house,” said Garda O’Leary.
The garda said that CCTV footage from earlier that evening showed Mr Cummins walking around the town with nobody following him.
“There was no evidence he was being followed,” he said.
Explaining how Mr Cummins had been apprehended, Garda O’Leary said that one garda went to one side of the house and a second went to the other. They both identified themselves to Mr Cummins as gardaí.
Mr Cummins came around the side and when Garda O’Leary identified himself as a garda, Mr Cummins “shot through the bushes".
He was followed and arrested. It was just after 8pm.
By the time Mr Cummins had been arrested a crowd of people had gathered, said the garda.
Garda O’Leary said that the occupant of the house was not at home at the time and was not aware Mr Cummins was on his property.
Mr Cummins’s solicitor Liz McKeever, in mitigation, said the court was being asked to believe that Mr Cummins had returned to the scene of his previous crime to commit an offence.
She outlined to the court that there had been daily protests ever since Mr Cummins had been released from prison.
Ms McKeever said that the probation report was quite lengthy. It was obvious that Mr Cummins was not welcome in Nenagh and that was why he was not in court on November 15.
She said that Mr Cummins was under court supervision until January 2031 over the previous offence and seemed to be doing quite well where he is now residing.
She was not making light of the incident and the house occupant had been upset when he found out Mr Cummins was on his property.
However, she said that her client had been under “huge pressure” at the time.
Judge MacGrath had noted in October the positive response in the probation report but said that she could not dispose of the case in his absence.
She had said that a suspended sentence would be appropriate.
“I can’t take a benign view of it because of the prior history with the property,” Judge MacGrath had said.
When the case came to court on Thursday, November 4, Judge MacGrath sentenced Mr Cummins to three months in prison, suspended for two years, on condition Mr Cummins enter a bond of €500, attend the probation service and follow any conditions laid out in the probation report.
Mr Cummins was convicted in 2007 of raping and anally raping a 75-year-old woman in 2005.
He was also convicted of burglary of her home but was found not guilty by direction of the court of threatening to kill her on the same occasion.
Mr Justice Paul Carney had imposed two concurrent terms of 15 years each for rape and anal rape, and five years for burglary.
He had also declared Mr Cummins a sex offender and had ordered that he undergo 10 years of post-release supervision.
When Mr Cummins was released on December 31, 2020, crowds of people had gathered at his former home in Nenagh calling on him to leave the area.
Protests had also been staged during his court appearances for the offence on January 5. 2021.
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