A Moroccan immigrant who broke into a woman’s house and sexually assaulted her in a terrifying ordeal, was released from custody prior to the attack – despite a previous crime spree – because he applied for asylum in this country. 

Ibrahim Elghynaoui broke in through the window of a woman’s bedroom as she slept and sexually assaulted her as she fought to escape. The woman said in her victim impact statement that she has lived in constant fear since the assault.

Elghynaoui came to Ireland in 2017 and first came to the attention of Gardaí in August of that year. Over the next two years he managed to rack up 22 convictions for offences such as possession of a knife and burglary.

A deportation application for the Moroccan national was submitted by Gardaí in January 2018 since he was found to have immigrated to the country illegally.  Elghynaoui was in custody at the time but in April 2018 he applied for asylum in Ireland.

According to Irish Court News, because of that asylum application, he was then released from custody and went on to engage in criminal activity. The deportation order was not carried out. When Elghynaoui failed to engage with the asylum process, that application was also closed.

The night that he broke into the woman’s home and sexually assaulted her, he also burgled a nearby apartment.

Sentencing Elghynaoui yesterday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said that the accused did not plead guilty or express remorse, and that he had subjected his victim to the terror of a sexual assault on her own bed in the dead of night, when she was in a vulnerable and defenceless position.

He sentenced Elghynaoui to 12 years for the sexual assault and nine years for the burglary, and was asked to consider that the prisoner would serve the sentence in a country where he would have social and cultural difficulties.

In her victim impact statement, the woman, who was praised by Justice McDermott for her courage, said that because the attack happened in the privacy of her own bedroom, “nowhere feels safe.”

She said the crime had left an irreparable mark on my life and spoke of waking to find Elghynaoui on top of her with his hand on her throat. She said she believed she was going die as he then strangled her when she fought back against the sexual assault.

The woman said that as well as being inflicted with physical injuries, she was obliged to take medication to prevent sexually transmitted infections including HIV, until she got the all clear medically.

She also said that she developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and now cannot bear to be touched, even by family members, and needs someone to be with her at night. Despite now suffering from severe insomnia she said she is too frightened to take sleeping tablets for fear that would be unconscious and unable to defend herself if attacked.

Figures from the Garda National Immigration Bureau show that most deportation orders issued are not acted on. Last December, Justice Minister, Helen McEntee, said that there have been almost no deportations under her watch throughout the covid-19 pandemic, and described this as a “compassionate and pragmatic approach”.