Thursday 5 December 2019

10 years for Offaly drama teacher who raped a student (7) after holding her back after class

The Central Criminal Court
The Central Criminal Court

Conor Gallagher

A DRAMA teacher who raped a student when she was around seven years old has been jailed for ten years.

Kevin Carroll (56) raped the girl in an Offaly school when he held her back after drama class nearly twenty years ago. The victim gave evidence that after the incident a woman at the school told her not to upset her mother by telling her about the rape.

Carroll of Hawthorne Drive, Birr in Offaly had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court  to rape and anal rape at the Offaly school on a date between 1996 and 1998 when the girl was between six and eight. He was convicted on both counts.

Today Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan noted that Carroll had offered no mitigation and still rejected the verdict of the jury.

She said the jury had found his victim to be “a credible and reliable witness” and she commended the woman's “strength and great dignity” in reading out her emotional victim impact report.

Judge Heneghan said any sentence must take into account the “revulsion of society at such crimes”. She took into account that the victim was a defenceless child at the time and Carroll held a position of authority over her.

She imposed a ten years sentence and ordered Carroll to undergo two year post-release supervision. She also ordered he be registered as a sex offender.

The woman began her victim impact statement by quoting the poem “The Forge” by Seamus Heaney. “All I know is a door into the dark”, she told the court.

She said she felt like she “was given a life sentence at the age of six.” She felt “humiliated and degraded” throughout the trial process which she found “exceptionally difficult.”

She said she had trouble with State exams because they were held in halls similar to the one she was raped in. She also had to give up certain sports because they took place in halls.

She concluded that the rape hadn't destroyed her and she was slowly learning to cope with the help of therapy.

The court heard earlier this week that Carroll is to launch an appeal against his conviction because a juror was allegedly “smiling and winking” at gardaí during his trial.

Counsel for the DPP, Justin Dillon SC, said the offence was at the higher end of the scale of seriousness because of the age of the victim, Carroll's position of trust and the injuries he caused her.

Mr Dillon told the court that Carroll taught a drama class in the school but was not officially a teacher there.

The victim told the trial that she was in his class and was in the hall one day, possibly to help the teacher or for extra auditions. She said Carroll asked her if she wanted to play a game . He told her he loved her and she was his “little angel”.

He raped her and sodomised her. She said the the pain was “unbelievable” and she thought she was going to die. She was bleeding afterwards.

She recalled hearing a brush drop and saw that the caretaker had seem then. The girl left the hall and the caretaker “went for” Carroll, she said.

She said a woman saw her crying and another woman took her to the bathroom. When she came out of the bathroom one of the women was waiting for her, she said.

She recalled the woman saying “You don't want to tell your mammy this, you don't want to upset her.”

The trial heard evidence from the caretaker that he saw the girl on the man's knee. He said he saw Carroll zipping up his trousers and noticed he had an erection. However the caretaker denied punching Carroll and breaking his glasses.

A statement from the local priest was read to the jury which stated that he received a complaint from the caretaker and he advised him to seek counselling and report the matter to gardaí.

The court heard earlier this week that Carroll is to launch an appeal against his conviction because a juror was allegedly “smiling and winking” at gardaí during his trial.

Defence counsel Colm Smyth SC told a sentencing hearing that he had nothing to say in mitigation because Carroll still maintained his innocence and rejected the jury's verdict.

However he said an appeal was to be launched against the verdict and one of the issues would be the juror's alleged behaviour during the trial which took place last month.

Mr Smyth added that the juror was present in the Central Criminal Court for the sentencing hearing last Monday and was seen in consultation with gardaí all morning.

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