A Romanian who violently raped a teenager with a mild intellectual disability, and then imprisoned her and raped her twice more, was given an extraordinarily lenient sentence because he can’t speak English, the Court of Appeal has heard.
Costel Pirvu repeatedly raped the woman, aged 19 at the time, after grabbing her on the street in a town in the west of Ireland when she was coming home from a night out with friends.
The woman was raped by Pirvu after he forced her to the ground even as she struggled to escape, causing scrapes and bruises to her arms, legs and back.
He then forced her to go back to his apartment, where he raped the terrified teenager a further two times, only letting her go the next morning when a friend of his came in.
A report from the Sexual Assault and Treatment Unit showed that the young woman had sustained a 2mm laceration to her urethra as well as bruises and scrapes to her face, back, breasts, arms, legs and genital area.
Pirvu was sentenced to 10 year imprisonment but the final three and a half years was suspended, although the accused had a history of violent offending, including convictions for robbery and attempted rape.
Court News Ireland reported that lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions said today before the Court of Appeal that Pirvu unduly benefited in mitigation because the trial judge had factored in his status as a foreign national with no English, which would make prison life more difficult for him.
Counsel representing the DPP argued that the trial judge said every day in prison for Pirvu would be like a day and a half for an English-speaking person, which led to an “extremely high” discount being given to the Romanian national.
In sentencing Pirvu, the judge “came up with a formula that it would be 50 per cent more severe for him than a local”, the DPP’s office said.
In a victim impact report read out in court on her behalf, the woman said she feels everything in her life has been going against her since “that horrible night”.
She said Pirvu came up behind her, grabbed her and dragged her down the street, putting his hand over her mouth so she couldn’t breathe and feared for her life.
“I felt like a piece of meat,” she wrote. “I tried to fight him and I tried to run away but he was much stronger, he said he was going to kill me if I didn’t do what he wanted me to do.”
The woman said she has told her counsellor that although the bruises from the attack on the outside were healing, “something on the inside of me was broken and could never be fixed”.
The court heard that she doesn’t feel safe anymore and suffers with PTSD, nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks.
The young woman said she has become very depressed and suicidal and was self-harming. She told the court that she felt that her life was no longer her own.
She also said that it had been “horrible’ to have to tell the story over and over again to so many people. Being questioned in court made her feel like she was the one who had done something wrong, she said.
She said it was also horrible to have pictures of her shown to strangers in the court and that she was so distressed and felt so weak and sick to her stomach that she vomited on the way home.
In the Court of Appeal, counsel for the DPP said that Pirvu had denied he had raped the woman, and that he claimed they had consensual sex after Gardai told him his DNA had been discovered on the victim’s body.
It was also pointed out by the DPP’s office that Pirvu had violent convictions from crimes committed in Germany and Romania.
Bernard Madden SC, for Pirvu, said the trial judge took Pirvu’s personal circumstances into account and that his client had medical issues and would not be able to partake in English-speaking counselling or courses while imprisoned.
Mr Justice George Birmingham adjourn the matter to Thursday, January 19.