Trim Courthouse

Man jailed for terrifying attack on woman jogging along the banks of the Boyne

A man who attacked a woman out jogging along the banks of the Boyne in Co Meath two years ago was jailed for four years at Trim Circuit Court.

The court heard the victim a mother of three thought she was going to die during her ordeal.

Joseph McArdle (32), with an address at Grangebellew Co Louth pleaded guilty to the woman's false imprisonment on 26th July 2020 at Oldbridge, Co Meath.

Evidence in the case was heard earlier this year.

During the previous hearing Garda John Spain told prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe BL that the woman noticed the defendant ahead of her on the boardwalk between Drogheda and Oldbridge that Sunday morning and immediately felt uneasy about his demeanour.

She tried to accelerate past him but McArdle grabbed her in a rugby style tackle and threw her on the ground before getting on top of her.

The woman told gardai she thought he was going to strangle her or stab her or throw her into the river Boyne and when she began screaming he put his hand over her mouth.

She said she stopped struggling and managed to reason with him and when he loosened his grip and got off her she ran for help and met two other runners while a third caught up with her attacker as he walked away and kept him at the scene until gardai arrived.

McArdle gave gardai a false name at first but was later recognised by Garda Antoinette Power at Drogheda Garda Station.

McArdle inititially said he had got angry when his victim refused to give him a cigarette and added: "I attacked that woman".

He claimed he had been awake and drinking all night prior to the incident adding that he had been attempting to kiss the woman and had restrained her until he "copped himself on".

He said he had been sexually aroused at the time and asking for a cigarette had only been an excuse for grabbing her.

The woman in her victim impact statement said she thought she was going to die during the attack and had since suffered recurring nightmares and flashbacks and had been plagued with thoughts of what might have happened.

She added that she was now afraid to go running alone.

The woman thanked those who had helped her on the day adding that in light of what happened Ashling Murphy earlier this year in Tullamore she felt very lucky.

Judge Martina Baxter praised the woman for her bravery describing her as a 'great role model' and remanded the defendant on bail for sentence.

Defence barrister Donough McDonough told the resumed hearing his client who had a long standing problem with alcohol and cannabis abuse had written a letter of apology to the victim.

In the letter he said he was 'so very sorry' for his behaviour and added that the incident had 'opened his eyes to what drink and drugs' can do to him.

Judge Baxter said it had "clearly been a frightening and traumatizing" ordeal for the victim who had been "a very brave woman on the day and very brave in coming to court".

The judge noted the contents of a medical report which outlined the defendant's addiction and other issues as well as a probation report in which he denied the assault was sexually motivated.

Judge Baxter sentenced McArdle to five-and-a-half years with the final eighteen months suspended on condition he remain under the supervision of the Probation Service for eighteen months after his release.