A man who attempted to rape a terminally ill 66-year-old woman in her car on a busy Devonport street last year has been jailed.
Ronald Athol Keating, 55, pleaded guilty in May this year to charges of aggravated assault and attempted rape for the broad daylight attack on William Street.
Keating was assessed by a court appointed psychologist as having an "extremely low" IQ and an intellectual disability, though a forensic psychiatrist noted no evidence of a mental illness.
Supreme Court Justice Helen Wood sentenced Keating in October for the attack on the woman on William Street and an assault on a disability carer earlier on the same day in July 2020.
Justice Wood told the court Keating's female victim noticed him standing on the street fondling his genitals through his clothing as she sat in the driver's seat of her car.
Her plans to make the most of her limited time have been overshadowed by the trauma she has been subjected to.- Justice Helen Wood
Keating then approached her car, opened the driver's door and forced himself on her, the judge said.
"The complainant screamed for help and the defendant punched the complainant to the right side of her face, in the area of her cheekbone.
"He pushed her back into the seat and pulled up her dress. He pulled at the gusset of her stockings attempting to rip them and tried to prise her legs apart.
"The complainant tried to push the defendant off but her right hand was trapped and she was not able to. She continued to scream and yell for help."
The woman was eventually able to reach her car horn and attracted the attention of three passersby, who were able to restrain Keating who was then arrested by police.
"He frankly admitted his conduct, including that he tried to have sex with the complainant, she was saying no and she screamed and he admitted that he kept going," Justice Wood said.
"He said to police that he understood that what he was trying to do was wrong, and he thought the complainant would have felt scared."
"The deleterious effect of the crime is particularly profound because she has a terminal illness," Justice Wood said.
"The defendant subjected the complainant to a terrifying ordeal and he has profoundly harmed her quality of life.
"Her plans to make the most of her limited time have been overshadowed by the trauma she has been subjected to."
The judge said Keating's moral culpability for the crime was reduced in part by his intellectual disability, and noted he will likely need purpose-built, secure accommodation and specialised support on his release from prison.
She said she expected this to be facilitated through the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Community Corrections.
Keating was jailed for three-and-a-half years from August 17, 2020 and will be eligible for parole after having served 20 months of that sentence.
For sexual assault support contact Laurel House on 6431 9711 or visit www.laurelhouse.org.au.
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