Sunday 30 April 2017

'A huge chunk of me was taken away that night' - Victim speaks as former partner jailed and ordered to pay €40k for rape

The Criminal Courts of Justice (Stock photo)
The Criminal Courts of Justice (Stock photo)

Sonya McLean and Declan Brennan

A man who raped his former partner so violently that she bled heavily has been jailed for five years and ordered to pay €40,000 in compensation.

Imposing sentence in the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said that people could not be permitted to buy themselves out of trouble and that the offer of compensation was only a marginal factor in the sentence.

In a victim impact statement the 33-year-old woman said that she continually had nightmares re-living the rape.

"Sometimes I am lying in the bed in my own blood or being chased by him. I am not the person I was before I was raped."

"Now I feel like my life is regressed and I am less of a mother because a huge chunk of me was taken away that night," the statement continued.

The man, also aged 33, pleaded guilty to rape on January 26, 2014 in the house they shared in a Dublin suburb. He has no previous convictions.

Mr Justice McCarthy noted that the victim was amenable to an offer of compensation from the man.

He ordered that €40,000 be paid over to the victim but said that this compensation was a limited and marginal mitigating factor.

"People cannot be permitted to buy themselves out of trouble," he said, adding that it would not be appropriate. He said that on the basis of the man's plea of guilty and his expressions of remorse to the victim he could reduce an initial sentence of nine years to six years.

He said the payment of compensation from the man, who had limited means, was a limited factor, and he further reduced the sentence by another year.

He noted that an aggravating factor of the offence was the fact that the man seemed to have "most arrogantly assumed" that he was entitled to have sex with the woman because of their relationship history.

He said the violation of the woman's home, the breach of trust and the level of violence used were also aggravating.

The court heard that the man has €20,000 in a current account and €165,000 in an investment bond.

He received a large sum of money in compensation for a personal injury which has left him suffering substantial damage.

The judge said he must be permitted to retain some of this money which was needed for future medical care. He ordered €20,000 be paid over within a week and the remainder within a month.

Mr Justice McCarthy noted the case of businessman Anthony Lyons who was jailed in 2012 for six months and ordered to pay €75,000 in compensation for an offence of sexual assault.

The Court of Appeal later increased the prison sentence to six years with four suspended after the Director of Public Prosecutions had appealed against the leniency of the sentence.

The judge said that the amount of compensation did not seem to have been of any relevance to Mr Lyons but that the man in this case had relatively limited funds.

He said the money did not put an injured person into the previous position they were in. He said the compensation may be of scant benefit but it did have a practical use.

Evidence

The couple had been in a relationship for a number of years but that ended in late 2013. They continued to live in the same house but in separate rooms.

On the night of the rape he came into her bedroom, turned on a light and took off his clothes despite the woman telling him to leave the room.

She continued to challenge him, asking him why he was in her room but he ignored her and climbed on top of her.

“This is happening,” he told the woman before he raped her. She shouted at him repeatedly, asking him to stop because it was causing her significant pain but he continued to rape her. She found it impossible to get away from him because of his weight on top of her.

A garda witness told Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, said the man ultimately stopped when he realised how much he was hurting the woman. She was bleeding very badly.

In her victim impact statement the woman said her first reaction was shock and denial. She felt numb, so alone and “disgusting in my own skin”.

“I was full of self loathing. I couldn't even say the word rape. It scared me so much. It was too hard to deal with so I bottled it up. I wanted to tell my family but I feared their reaction,” the woman continued.

She said she had to leave her home because the accused refused to move out. She had to move her teenage daughter far from her school and her friends and they had to give away her pet cat because their new rented home wouldn't allow animals.

The woman said she became suicidal and her GP sent her to A&E for treatment. She was then assessed by social services as there were concerns as to her suitability to be the sole carer for her daughter. She was terrified of losing her child.

She has since moved back with her parents. She still suffers from depressions.

The garda agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that there was email correspondence between the accused and the woman in the immediate aftermath of the rape in which he acknowledged a number of times that he had been wrong.

The garda witness also agreed that he told gardaí he was drunk at the time.

Ms Biggs told Mr Justice McCarthy that her client has attended for counselling and the resulting report described him as “open and honest, utterly ashamed and remorseful”. It stated that he would never forgive himself and was concerned for his former partner. He accepted full responsibility for what he had done.

Counsel said the man had attended a counsellor to see why he did what he did. She submitted that he had “taken steps to make sure this activity does not happen again.”

Ms Biggs handed in letters from the man's parents, his current girlfriend and her parents.

She asked Mr Justice McCarthy to take into account his real remorse and the fact that he had sought to understand his behaviour.

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