Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill, a woman recurrently raped and sexually assaulted by her erstwhile boyfriend, Mr. Magnus Meyer Hustveit, was granted €1 million in damages by a jury at the High Court after trying to take her own life in September 2013.
She took legal action utilizing civil proceedings in the High Court against the aforementioned suspect, pursuing damages for several acts of sexual assault in an apartment situated in Dublin between May 2011 and April 2012. These damages included personal injuries, loss, and damage caused by the assault, battery, rape, sexual assault and infliction of emotional harm on his part.
Ms. Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill informed the jury that Hustveit repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted her while she was asleep. She also said that she “felt unsafe everywhere” and that every part of her had been abysmally impinged as a result of the deeds executed by Hustveit.
On 29 April 2012, Ms. Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill told the jury that he, Hustveit, confessed employing an email to using her body for his sexual gratification. She notified the jury that the acquisition of the email was “extremely shocking” and distressing as it extensively specified how the accused recurrently violated her while she laid slumbering.
After being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Ms. Dhomhnaill left Ireland for several years; leaving her much loved teaching career, and eventually attempted taking her own life. Upon assessment, a psychiatrist provided evidence informing the jury that the repercussions of her assault weighed a 9-9.5 out of 10 on a severity scale.
Magnus Mayer Hustveit in his admission, pleaded guilty to one count of rape and sexual assault between 2011 and 2012 when the couple were both in their twenties. He did not enter a defence, resulting in the jury having to assess the damages and was then initially given a suspended seven-year sentence, however; this was found to be unduly lenient by the court of appeal and was superseded by a 15-month prison sentence.
Ms. Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill continued by saying that as a result of the actions of Hustveit; she attended therapy, had continuous nightmares, trouble eating, over-exercised, abused laxative tablets and on many occasions battled to leave her bedroom or home. This led to all her relationships being affected, leaving her apprehensive about trusting people including her parents. She left Ireland for London, where she studied psychology, however; she had concerns regarding overachieving to compensate for the trauma after all that has happened, also leaving her unsure about how she would be in 10 years.
Josephine McDonald, her mother, mentioned that she observed various changes in her daughter over the epoch such as her independence, levels of activity and articulation. She said her daughter had become detached and could feel a certain level of anxiety emitting from her. In August 2012, her reservations were affirmed when Niamh informed her that she had been raped. Although her daughter has accomplished a great deal, she stated that she was “not back to my Niamh yet”.
In the end, Ms. Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill was ascribed a total of €1m; that constituted €350,000 in general damages, €400,000 in aggravated damages and €250,000 in punitive damages.
Over and above that, The Director of the Women’s Council (Ms. Orla O’Connor) extolled Ms. Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill for her mettle and for sacrificing her anonymity, allowing other women to gain the courage to report. She said that Ms. Ni Dhomhnaill’s case raised questions regarding the definition of rape and consent, that made her aware of the lack of knowledge surrounding the impact of not just the present and short term effects, but also the permanent impact it has on the parties involved, in addition to the lack of knowledge relating to the crime. Ms. O’Connor in closing said, “They’ve awarded a significant amount, which is right in this case, because it indicates the serious the impact it has had on her”.