21 year-old former youth rugby player Ben O’Reilly pleaded not guilty to assaulting Fernanda de Freitas causing her harm and robbing her of cash and her phone at her home on May 20, 2017.
In December 2019, a jury of ten women and two men convicted O’Reilly of assaulting Ms de Freitas and acquitted him of the robbery charge.
The sentence was passed on Monday, January 27. Judge Elma Sheahan said that following a dispute as to payment for the services, O’Reilly punched the victim and injured her further by placing his hands around her neck. Judge Sheahan said the case was exacerbated by the severity of the offence.
Mr O’Reilly has since been suspended from his former rugby club, and the Judge noted that prison term would result in O’Reilly losing his role in the British Armed Forces.
Judge Sheahan sentenced O’Reilly to two years imprisonment but suspended the sentence in full under the condition that he pay €10,000 in compensation to Ms de Freitas within the next 12 months.
During an earlier hearing, the court heard that Ms de Freitas worked as an escort and had met O’Reilly through Grindr.
O’Reilly went to her address and agreed to pay €500. He initially paid €150, and Ms de Freitas said she would require him to go to the bank and get the rest.
Following their encounter, O’Reilly asked for his money back and punched de Freitas in the face. He restrained her and began to squeeze her neck, stopping after she kicked him in the groin.
Ms de Freitas gave him the €150 back, and he left her address, leaving his phone behind, which Gardaí later used to identify him as a suspect.
When giving a statement to Gardaí, the former rugby player said that he had done this type of thing before he was under the impression he could get away with not paying. He admitted that he hit the victim but claimed she had become aggressive and started taking money out of his wallet.
In her victim impact statement, Ms de Freitas said she felt it was important to report as she did not want him to do this to another woman.
Ms de Freitas said that she was unable to work for some time and needed to work to support her family.
Commenting on the case, Sex Workers Alliance Ireland said on Twitter:
“We are pleased to see this man brought to justice after assaulting a trans sex worker and choking her.
“We note, however, that the age of a sex worker who is prosecuted under our so-called brothel-keeping laws is rarely taken into account since young migrant workers bear the brunt of the law #SupportSafeSexWork #DecrimForSafety“
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