‘Man Attacks 86 Year Old Woman … Because He Thought She Was Transgender’

On July 20 2023, a blurry screenshot of tweet and an apparent news headline — ” Man beats up 86-year-old woman with dementia because he thought she was transgender” — made it to Reddit’s r/WhitePeopleTwitter:

An attached screenshot showed a July 19 2023 tweet from the account @RightWingCope on Twitter. In addition to the date, Twitter metrics were visible, including indication the tweet had been viewed millions of times:

Fact Check

Claim: Image depicts a real-life news story about a man who “beat up and 86 year old woman with dementia,” “because he thought she was transgender.”

Description: The claim originates from a post on Reddit’s r/WhitePeopleTwitter, which depicts a screenshot of a tweet that made it viral on July 20, 2023. The tweet presented a headline ‘Man beats up 86-year-old woman with dementia because he thought she was transgender’. The incident was reported to have taken place in Dublin, Ireland in the early morning hours of September 1, 2022.

Rating: Decontextualized

Rating Explanation: Reviewing the materials from various sources, it seems that while the tweet was broadly accurate, it lacked certain details such as the date and location of the incident. The occurrence was further verified by news reports from May 2023.

Neither image included information about the source of the headline, and text on the image included a date (May 24 2023):

Man beats up 86-year-old woman with dementia because he thought she was transgender

She now asks people if they’re going to kill her since the man beat her & threw her in a garbage bin. She’ll spend the rest of her life in a nursing home.

By Alex Bollinger Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The headline matched an article on LGBTQNation.com, published on the date seen in the image:

A man has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to charges connected to beating an 86-year-old woman suffering from early-onset dementia for 42 minutes and then pushing her into an outdoor garbage bin in Dublin, Ireland. He said he thought that she was transgender and therefore was “a predatory pedophile,” repeating language often used by anti-transgender activists.

Alex Bailey, 30, said that he had taken so many drugs that night that he was in a state of “induced psychosis” and believed that the victim, Marie MacGowan, was a “man dressed up as a woman,” according to the Irish Times. She was actually trying to find her way home and was lost when she was attacked around 2 a.m. [on the date of the attack].

On May 19 2023, the Irish Times reported:

Bailey met Marie MacGowan, who had early onset dementia, in Ranelagh around 2am [on the unspecified date of the incident] after [MacGowan] got lost on her way to her home.

CCTV footage showed [Bailey] remained in [MacGowan’s] company for over an hour. The footage shows Bailey assaulting Ms MacGowan sporadically for 42 minutes, including knocking her to the ground, putting her head first into a wheelie bin and applying pressure to the lid of the bin.

The woman feared she was going to be killed and later told gardaí [police]: “I really thought I was going to be dead.”

Counsel for Bailey said his client had taken a significant number of intoxicants on the night [of the incident], which led to “induced psychosis”, and he was under “the delusional belief that the victim was a predatory paedophile”.

Bailey believed the woman was a man dressed up as a woman, Patrick Gageby, SC, defending, told the court … Ms MacGowan was later treated for a fractured nose and blood loss. She had been diagnosed with early onset dementia but was living independently in Cullenswood at the time. She has since had to move into a nursing home because she struggles with her balance following the attack and needs constant care due to a risk of her falling.

DailyRecord.co.uk published an item about the sentencing, and added that the incident occurred on September 1 2022. A May 26 2023 article by the UK’s Independent added that MacGowan “had been … with a friend in the Ranelagh area of Dublin when she went home to go to bed on 31 August 2022,” but “woke up some time later and decided to go to the shops,” unaware of the late hour.

A viral July 20 2023 post to Reddit’s r/WhitePeopleTwitter indicated a man “beat up and 86 year old woman,” because he falsely believed the woman was transgender. The incident in question occurred in Dublin, Ireland in the early morning hours of September 1 2022. The screenshot depicted a real article from May 2023 and was broadly accurate. However, it lacked details about the date and location of the incident.