Tuesday 27 September 2016

Woman with special needs tells rape trial jury 'man took her to his house for sex'

Conor Gallagher

Published 24/11/2015 | 14:52

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A rape trial jury has heard evidence from a special needs woman that a man brought her back to his house and had sex with her after she became separated from her mother.

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The accused claims he had sexual contact with the woman, who is in her twenties, but that he did not know she was mentally impaired.

The man has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape, sexual assault and having sex with a mentally impaired person at his Dublin home on June 12, 2013.

Today jurors were played two DVDs of the woman talking to a specialist interviewer a week after the alleged rape and again the following year.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt explained to the jury that it must treat the evidence given in the DVDs as if it was given live from the witness box.

The woman was asked by the interviewer if she knew what a court was and if she knew the difference between truth and lies.

As an example the interviewer said Ronan Keating was in the band One Direction and asked if this was true or a lie. The woman said it was a lie because he was in Boyzone.

She said a court was where bad people were sent to jail and that she understood that a judge and others might want to view her interview. In the later DVD she said she did not know what a court was and it was explained to her by the interviewer.

She was asked about her family and interests before being questioned about the alleged rape. The woman said she was out walking with her mother in Dublin that day but that they became separated.

She said a man found her on the street and pushed her into a corner before saying “come with me.” She said the man told her he was going to help her before taking her by the hand to a house.

“He didn't help me,” she told Caroline Biggs SC, prosecuting. “I was confused and scared and sick.”

She said he locked the door behind them and that she was afraid he was going to stab or kill her. “I wanted to go home but he wouldn't let me,” she said.

The woman said that at one point she panicked and started banging on the door screaming “help, mum, help.”

Asked by the interviewer if she knew what sex was, the woman replied that she didn't but she could feel his penis hurting her.

She said that at one point she heard a woman come through the front door and say “I'm home, honey, I'm home.” She said she thought it might be the man's girlfriend or wife.

She said he then walked her downstairs to the door and she walked home.

Regarding the count of rape, Ms  Biggs  told the jury of six men and women in her opening speech that a person could not consent to sex if they did not have the capacity to consent.

Regarding the charge of sex with a mentally impaired person, Ms Biggs said the prosecution would have to prove that sex or attempted sex took place and that the person was mentally impaired at the time.

She said that the law states that a person is mentally impaired if they cannot live independently or protect themselves from serious exploitation.

It is a valid defence for an accused to claim he “did not know and had no reason to suspect” the person was mentally impaired, counsel said.

The defence will have the opportunity to cross-examine the women via video-link tomorrow.

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