Tuesday 23 May 2017

Man who threatened to throw teen rape victim in the river jailed for six years

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Conor Gallagher

A man who raped a 16 year old girl and threatened to throw her in the river shortly after leaving his girlfriend's house has been jailed for six years.

Peter Halligan (23) covered his face and grabbed the girl from behind as she was making her way home from her friend's house just before midnight. He was later arrested after a school friend saw him in the area. DNA found on the victim also matched Halligan.

During the attack the girl tried to get him to stop by claiming she was just 14 years old. She also suggested to him that because he was under 21 he would not go to prison of he stopped now. Halligan responded that he was over 21 and continued the attack.

At first the accused denied attacking the girl and suggested it could have been another man he saw in the area who he claimed was armed with a knife. He then claimed the girl had approached him on the street and asked for sex.

He said he initially lied to gardaí because he didn't want his girlfriend to find out.

Mr Justice Paul Butler noted that Halligan has no previous convictions and has a 6-year-old son. He described him as 'a good dad', and as a man who paid his monthly maintenance, had a positive attitude and had completed several courses in prison.

The judge said Halligan was thought unlikely to re-offend and suspended two years of an eight year sentence, which he described as being 'in the middle of the sentence scale'.

Halligan of Kilcohan Park, Waterford pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape and oral rape at a riverbank in Waterford City on July 24, 2014. He was convicted by a jury on both counts after four hours deliberations.

The victim was not in court for the sentence hearing. Detective Garda Tom Manton said she was traumatised by the events and was still very upset. A victim impact report she submitted to court stated the attack had impacted many aspects of her life including her relationships with family and friends.

She said she gets flashbacks and still feels she can't speak to her mother about the event for fear of upsetting her. She said she feels very vulnerable and intimidated when she is around men

“I'm getting slowly better,” she added. “I hope to some day to become the person I once was.”

Det Gda Manton told prosecuting counsel John O'Kelly SC that the girl was walking home from a friend's house and was in a rush because she had missed her curfew. CCTV picked up a male walking behind her.

Halligan had just left his girlfriends house and had covered his face with a scarf before grabbing the girl from behind. When she asked him what he was doing he told her to shut up or she “would go in the river.”

He took her down a quiet laneway where he raped and orally raped her. She didn’t fight back because she was too frightened. When he finished he told her not to say anything.

The girl went home and told her mother what happened and gardaí were alerted. Halligan was arrested shortly afterwards. Det Gda Manton said he was co-operative but changed his story about what happened several times.

Defence counsel Colman Cody SC said Halligan was an active sports player but hadn't left the house much since the incident. He said his mother was a decent person whose house and car had been targeted several times since Halligan's arrest.

Counsel added that Halligan had never come to garda attention before.

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