A KERRY sexual assault victim whose attacker's supporters controversially shook his hand in court, has endured a campaign of death threats and criminal damage since his conviction, the Sunday Tribune has learned.
The woman, who has a young son, had the front door of her home in Listowel kicked in last weekend by supporters of bouncer Danny Foley. She has also received several phone calls in which callers have told her they will "pay her back" and have "bought coffins" for her and her son. Gardaí are investigating the matter.
The callers making death threats have told the 23-year-old woman that her son's life is "in her hands" as a result of Foley's conviction for sexual assault. Those telephoning the young woman have been clear that the reason for the threatening phone calls is "because of what she did to Danny Foley".
The young woman's house has been targeted on at least four occasions – the side door of her home has been repeatedly kicked in an attempt at intimidation and the downstairs windows have been banged on. These incidents have made her fearful for her safety and that of her son.
The situation came to a head a week ago last night. The young mother and her son were not home when the front door was kicked in. Nothing was stolen from the house, but this incident, as well as the threatening phone calls and attempts at intimidation, are being investigated by gardaí. It is understood that the campaign of intimidation, death threats and criminal damage is being taken extremely seriously by senior gardaí.
The local council has agreed to install lights in the woman's back garden as well as a lock on the side door passage at her home. There is no suggestion that Danny Foley or his family are aware of the intimidation and threats or support the campaign against the woman.
Foley (35) was jailed for seven years in December with the final two suspended after being found guilty of sexually assaulting the young woman behind a nightclub in Listowel in 2008. Before he was taken to prison, around 50 of his supporters queued up to shake his hand.
Listowel parish priest Fr Seán Sheehy was forced to stand down after he provided Foley with a character reference and went on radio following Foley's sentencing and spoke of the "alleged assault".
Foley's victim later said that she had felt intimidated in court. She said that some of the group of 50 people who shook his hand gave her "dirty looks" and were staring at her. She said that shortly after the case she was refused service in the chip shop where Foley had worked.
However, five months have now passed since Foley was jailed and the young woman enjoys the support of the vast majority of locals in Listowel. Shortly after the controversy became a national media story, the woman said the whole experience was "terrible" but she was not sorry she went to court.
She encouraged any other victim to come forward and report an assault and said there was support out there for people who had been attacked in this way. "When you say 'no', no is no and whoever won't take 'no' for an answer, they are taking advantage," she said at a press conference. Foley has since withdrawn his appeal against his conviction.