Northern Ireland news

Co Antrim man (24) jailed for sexually assaulting woman in house in Portrush

A 24-year-old man who admitted sexually assaulting a woman in a house in Portrush, Co Antrim, following a night out has been jailed

A Co Antrim man who admitted sexually assaulting a woman in a house in Portrush following a night out has been jailed.

Dean Stirling (24), from Strand Cottages in Ballycastle, appeared at Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, where he was told his 32-month sentence will be divided equally between custody and licence.

His actions on April 1 2018 resulted in the then 21-year-old woman seeking hospital treatment.

Judge Donna McColgan said she was in a vulnerable state when she was sexually assaulted by Stirling, and that she did not consent to any sexual activity with him.

The evening before the incident, both the woman and Stirling had been drinking at a house in Portrush with another young man and woman, and all four had gone to Portstewart.

As the four got a taxi back to Portrush later that evening, they stopped for a carry-out and continued drinking back at the house.

In the early hours of the following morning, the 21-year-old felt sick and vomited in the bathroom before going to bed in an upstairs room.

The woman lay on top of the bed with her clothes on and believes that at this point she blacked out.

Her next recollection was Stirling lying beside her on the bed, experiencing pain in her genital area and noticing blood.

She later attended Causeway Hospital where was treated for injuries which required stitches.

A police investigation was launched and the other young man and woman present in the house gave statements which Judge McColgan said were "inconsistent".

The woman's DNA was found on Stirling's body and on his clothes, and while he initially denied having any sexual contact with her, he later admitted a charge of sexual assault by penetration.

Judge McColgan said the woman was "in an extremely vulnerable state" and noted that she has now become "somewhat reclusive... she likes to stay at home with her family now rather than going out".

She said that due to Stirling's failure to give an account of what happened other than to admit the charge, the inconsistent statements from the other people in the house, and the victim's vulnerable state, "only Dean Stirling knows precisely what happened in that bedroom".

He was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period and made the subject of a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

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