Burglar who sexually assaulted woman in her bed given suspended sentence

A MAN who broke into a woman’s home after a “meet your neighbor” party and sexually assaulted her while she slept in her bed was given a suspended sentence.

Anthony Ferguson broke into the woman’s home in July 2018 after the community in a County Donegal village came together for storytelling, fun activities and food.

The victim was serving drinks when a man who was out of the area, later identified as Ferguson, made noises and was asked to leave when the bar closed.

The victim and her husband went back to their nearby house with some neighbors, where they had a drink with friends.

Ferguson entered the house, was very noisy again, and was asked to leave.

The couple went to bed around 2 a.m., but the woman told the court that she was woken up by a man in bed next to her.

The man, Ferguson (now 27 years old), said to her, “I have you now.”

The woman jumped up and alerted her husband and yelled at him to get the man out of the house.

Ferguson was later arrested and found guilty of sexual assault, burglary and property damage before the Letterkenny Circuit Court in January of that year.

His victim said she could have written page after page about how hurt she felt after the incident.

And added that she couldn’t work for weeks after the attack, walking around her house and locking doors the whole time.

Her husband, who works abroad, was unable to travel because she was so scared and they lost much of their income.

She told the court that she wanted Ferguson, from Fermanagh but with an earlier address at Brittania Point, Colliers Wood, London, to stand up and admit what he has done and that his behavior was horrific and that he should be disgusted and ashamed.

Ferguson escaped jail last January after agreeing to pay his victim € 20,000.

He said he could get the money from his father, who owned a supermarket chain in London that Anthony Ferguson worked for.

He appeared in court again in July, saying he still had no compensation and Judge John Aylmer said he wanted to see “much accelerated progress”.

However, the court was told yesterday that the public offering of the case had withdrawn the loan offer and Ferguson had lost his job, leaving him unable to fund another proposal to pay his victim € 500 a month.

His attorney, Ciaran O’Rourke, told Judge John Aylmer that his client “did his best” but had no income and no way to pay the victim the € 20,000 in compensation.

Before the verdict was pronounced, Judge Aylmer asked where the defendant was currently living and whether he could get an address in the Republic of Ireland.

Ferguson replied that he would find local accommodation in Donegal and find a more permanent address.

Prior to the mitigation, the judge said he had put the break in the middle range of such offenses with six years in prison, the sexual assault also in the middle range with four years in prison and the criminal damage at the lower end of the scale with 18 months in prison.

He added that Ferguson was 24 years old at the time of the crime and had no criminal record.

He said it appeared that these offenses were very atypical and that the only explanation could be that Ferguson was “literally crazy about alcohol”.

However, he added that this was not an excuse but an explanation for his “bizarre behavior”.

The judge said he accepted that Ferguson is genuinely repentant and ashamed of his behavior and that he has tried with limited success to rehabilitate himself from his addiction to alcohol and other substances.

Because of these factors, he reduced the sentence to four years in prison.

He added, however, that due to the lack of previous convictions and the particularly unusual features of the case, he took the “unique steps” to suspend the entire sentence for a period of four years after Ferguson borrowed the quiet for that time.

He ordered him to obey all probation orders and said he would have to live in the Republic of Ireland for the time.

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