Wednesday 26 October 2016

Man accused of raping woman in alleyway on night out acquitted

Conor Gallagher

Published 26/02/2016 | 14:07

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A man has been acquitted at the Central Criminal Court of raping a woman during a night out in Donegal when they were both 18.

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The now 21 year old accused had pleaded not guilty to rape of the woman in the alleyway of a Donegal town in July 2012.

The trial heard the two teenagers were in a back alley kissing and engaging in consensual sexual behaviour and the accused allegedly raped the girl despite her protests. She was left with severe bleeding and went to the emergency room later that night.

It was the defence case that the two had sex but that the accused stopped immediately when the girl said “no, not here.”

In interview the accused said he he was “very very sorry” for his actions. When he was asked by the interviewing garda what he was sorry for he replied “for drinking and for trying to have sex with her without her consent.”

The jury viewed footage of the accused's interview with gardaí during which the garda aggressively questioned and swore at the accused.

The defence said the investigating garda used very crude language and phrases and spoke over the then 18 year old during his interview. The garda said in evidence that his interviewing manner was “firm but fair.”

During her closing speech, prosecuting counsel Pauline Walley SC, said she “doesn't for a moment stand over” how the garda conducted the interview but said that the evidence “was out there” regardless.

The woman wept heavily as the verdict came in. Mr Justice Tony Hunt told the jury in such cases any verdict would be hurtful to someone. “I suspect that’s why I see what I see this morning,” he said, referring to the woman's distressed state.

He said all rape trials were difficult but cases where “consensual things are alleged to have turned into something else are extraordinarily difficult to probe”.

He said the verdict was a finding “in the cold light of day” and not a judgement against anyone. He added that both the accused and complainant had probably suffered while waiting for the trial.

During the trial the woman gave evidence she went to a night club with several friends where she ran into the accused. She knew him and had kissed him four or five times before but never had sexual intercourse with him, she said.

She wanted to go outside to make a phone call and the accused offered to go with her. Once outside he said he wanted to use an ATM and led her up a back alley which had no street lights she said.

She said at this point the man “put me against a wall” and started kissing her, “which was fine”. She said he then started digitally penetrating. When he tried to make her touch him she said she responded “no, not here, there's no way this is happening here.”

She said he then had sex with her against her will while holding her arms at her sides. She said she tried to make herself as rigid as possible but he was too strong for her. This lasted less than a minute and afterwards she noticed she was bleeding.

“The pain was unbelievable, it was so bad,” she said. “I couldn't scream, I was paralysed.”

“I was in shock, I was in so much pain. I knew I could scream all I wanted and nobody would hear me.”

Asked if she consented to intercourse she replied, “I said right from the start that this wasn't happening here. He knew fine rightly that I didn't want that to happen.”

During cross-examination Shane Costelloe SC, defending, put it to the now 22 year old woman that she made up a story about being raped because she was embarrassed when friends asked her about a blood stain on her dress afterwards.

“I put it to you that the rape allegation was a response to you being mocked,” counsel said. The woman denied this.

Mr Costelloe went on to suggest that the woman wanted to later recant her statement because it wasn't true.

“You tried to extricate yourself from the situation first by refusing to tell gardaí who raped you and second by asking gardaí if you could withdraw your statement.”

The woman replied that she asked to withdraw her statement initially because she was “terrified” about how formal the situation was becoming and because she “just wanted to forget all about it”.

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