THE jury in the case of a man accused of raping a teenage girl in the early 1970s were unable to reach a verdict after more than four hours of deliberation on Tuesday.
The foreman of the jury told Judge Paul Butler at the Central Criminal Court in Tralee that they could not reach a verdict on any of 11 charges of indecent assault and three of rape. The judge had earlier directed the jury of 12 to further deliberate to see if they could arrive at a majority verdict of at least ten to two.
The accused denied all charges and told gardaí that he had sexual intercourse with the alleged victim once, but that it was consensual and she had told him she was of legal age.
The jury of 11 men and one woman in a rape and indecent assault trial heard that the man had made the admission to gardaí during defence barrister Anthony Sammon SC's cross-examination of the alleged victim.
Both the woman and the accused man are from the county, but neither they nor the locations at which the offences are alleged to have happened can be identified for legal reasons.
The jury heard testimony from the woman on Wednesday last as she outlined the abuse she said was perpetrated against her between the ages of 11 and 16 by the accused.
The woman said she had been left deeply traumatised and had buried the memories of the abuse as they were so painful. It was during counselling in later years she first began to confront the memories, the court heard.
The accused was charged with 11 counts of indecent assault and three of rape; all the offences are alleged to have happened between April of 1969 and April of 1975.
Among the claims heard by the jury was that the man abused her on a number occasions when he entered her bed in a room she was sharing with his sleeping children.
One of the instances of rape occured off an isolated mountain road in the county, where she was taken in a car by the accused man. He parked the car off the road, she told the court under questioning by prosecution barrister Mary Rose Gearty SC on Wednesday. She said she was aged 14 or 15 at the time and that he began ' manipulating' her in the car. He was interrupted by a knock to the car window, revealing a man asking if the occupants were alright.
The woman told the court: "He said ' oh she's just a bit sick, that's all'. Then he said ' that was close'."
She told the court that he raped her minutes later
"Mr ( X) is pleading not guilty and is refuting each and every one of your assertions, both of indecent assault and your assertion of the rape allegations made against him," Mr Sammon said. "The situation in relation to one matter is that he told the police he did have sexual intercourse with you at a time when you were consenting to that and at an age when it was lawful," he told the woman.
Mr Sammon quizzed her at length on two different versions she had given of the rape on the isolated mountain road. In her statement to gardaí, she said that the knock on the window had occured after she had been raped by the man.
"The rape occured sir, the rape occured," the woman said, appearing increasingly upset through the cross-examination.
"I would say that a rape did not occur to you on any of the locations you have alleged."
"I have trouble remembering when, before or after the knock, it happened sir. I was raped by X on that occasion and many others besides," she said.
Asked by Ms Gearty why she hadn't told her father of the abuse perpetrated by the accused man, she said: "Because I was afraid. I didn't think anyone would believe me, I was terrified and I thought it was my fault, that I had done something wrong."
It was revealed on Friday - when the chief investigating Detective Garda James Hurley took the stand - that the accused man admitted having sex with the woman after twice denying any contact whatsoever with her. The man was interviewed four times by gardaí on January 25 of 2008. From the transcripts of the garda interviews read in court, it emerged that he absolutely denied all charges of rape and abuse.
In the first two interviews he denied having had any contact whatsoever with the woman. "I never had sexual intercourse with [ her]," he told gardaí in the second interview. At the outset of the third interview, the man told gardaí that he wished to make an amendment to his earlier accounts.
"In a previous statement I said I had never had sexual intercourse with [ the woman]...I did have consensual sex with her on one occasion at my house. She told me at the time she had previously had sex and that she was over the age of consent. It was 1974," Ms Gearty read from a transcript of the interview conducted by gardaí.
The man said that he had been on his way to the bathroom at the time and saw the woman, in her underwear, standing at the door of a bedroom and that she was looking at him. She was still there when he came out of the bathroom and he had sex with her in the room, he told gardaí. He said he had no physical contact with her before or since and that he regretted it his whole life.
When gardaí asked him why he thought it was wrong he said "because she was young".
He believed she was nearly 17 or over 17 at the time, but did not ascertain her actual age before having sex with her, the court heard.