Tuesday 17 July 2018

Five-year sentence for man who raped woman he met on dating app

  • Man sentenced to five years for rape of woman he met on app
  • The court heard Martin Sherlock has since lost his job and his wedding plans have been cancelled
Martin Sherlock sentenced to five years for rape of woman he met on app
Martin Sherlock sentenced to five years for rape of woman he met on app

A MEATH man has been jailed for five years for raping a woman he met on online dating app Badoo after he was caught through “ingenious detective work” on the part of investigating gardaí.

Martin Sherlock (30) and the woman had arranged to meet but she told him they could not have sex without a condom. She started to feel uncomfortable during other sexual activity and said he did not stop when she said “no”. She later realised he had ejaculated inside her.

Prosecuting counsel, Eilis Brennan BL, told the Central Criminal Court that the key issue in the case was that the victim had said no to sex without a condom.

The woman said she thought Badoo was “a way to meet boys”, but she did not know how to talk to them and said they just wanted sex after meeting .

Sherlock of Athlumney Wood, Navan, Co Meath had pleaded not guilty to raping the woman at her Dublin home on August 14, 2015. He had admitted stealing the woman's mobile phone.

He was convicted following a four-day trial after just over five hours of deliberations. He has no previous convictions.

The court heard Sherlock has since lost his job and his wedding plans have been cancelled.

Gardaí arrested Sherlock following a “sting” operation in which gardaí arranged to meet him as he was selling a phone through Done Deal. He told gardaí: “I know she said no, but we had already started.”

Today Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy noted that the woman had previously been diagnosed with a mental illness and had stated in her victim impact report that she kept telling herself she had “been an idiot”.

“This couldn't be further from the truth. She trusted someone and he abused her trust,” the judge said.

He said Sherlock had “not shown any attrition” and had contested the matter.

He acknowledged that Sherlock was entitled to have a trial but said that in doing so he had lost “the single most significant factor” in terms of mitigation, a plea of guilty.

Mr Justice McCarthy said “sentencing is not an exercise in vengeance” before he added that he had also taken into account testimonials from both Sherlock's fiancée and mother.

He said the letters appealed to him as to how he should deal with sentencing. “This is inappropriate,” the judge said but said he understood why they would do so “on a human level”.

Mr Justice McCarthy noted that Sherlock had plans to marry in August but said this was not possible as “obviously a custodial sentence is warranted”.

He noted that Sherlock was “otherwise of good character” before he jailed him for five years and directed that he be subject to three years post release supervision.

At the earlier sentence hearing, Blaise O'Carroll SC, defending, said Sherlock was “profoundly sorry” for the events and wished to apologise to the woman. Counsel said the effect of the publicity around the case had been devastating for Sherlock.

The court heard testimonials from family members and from Sherlock's fiancée who described him as a “caring, kind, generous and shy man”.

The court heard Sherlock's defence was that the sex had been consensual. He admitting hearing some “nos” but after some stopping and starting, thought she was happy to go forward.

During the trial, Garda Rossa Smith told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting, that the victim wanted “to meet boys” and set up an account on online dating website Badoo. She was in contact with Sherlock first on Badoo and later privately messaging on Whatsapp.

An arrangement was made to meet, sex was discussed and she asked Sherlock to bring a condom. It was later unclear if Sherlock was going to come that night as arranged and the woman had consensual sex at her home with a second man she had been contacting.

She was getting ready for bed when Sherlock made contact. She told him she had taken her make-up off but he said he would come for a chat. He arrived to the house at 3am with his phone charger.

There was some kissing and they went up to the bedroom. She asked if he had a condom and when he said “no”, she indicated they could not have sex.

They engaged in oral and digital penetration but the woman was uncomfortable. She asked Sherlock to stop a number of times but it continued.

She told him to stop after vaginal penetration but it still continued. The woman decided the only way for him to leave was to let it happen.

Gda Smith agreed with Ms Brennan that the key issue in the case was that the woman had said no to sex without a condom.

When the woman realised he had ejaculated, she was alarmed and Sherlock told her to get the morning after pill. She asked him to come with her but he said he had work, she asked him for money but he told her he had none.

Downstairs Sherlock told her he had forgotten his charger and was going back up to get it. While upstairs Sherlock saw the woman's phone and stole it. After he left, the woman realised her phone was gone and tried to ring a number of times, initially it rang but then went to voicemail.

The upset woman contacted a friend and after discussing it with him, contacted gardaí.

Ms Brennan said Sherlock was then nominated as a suspect through “ingenious detective work” and gardaí set up a string operation to meet him as he was selling a different phone through Done Deal.

Sherlock was arrested and on being asked about the woman replied: “I know she said no but we had already started.”

He told gardaí he had sold her phone and they were able to recover it from the shop. Nothing had been removed from the phone apart from the Whatsapp application.

Sherlock admitted being in contact with the woman. He said he had heard “nos” but they had stopped and started sexual contact and he thought she was happy to go forward with it.

The woman in her victim impact statement outlined how the offence had adversely affected her life. She said she had been asked to source her medical records in relation to her mental health which she found difficult and was offended that it mattered to the case.

She said she wondered if she had ruined Sherlock's life by reporting the offence but could not believe what she heard in his statements in court. She said she was now glad she reported it.

The woman said she felt “so stupid and such an idiot” when she found out he had been living with a girlfriend.

Mr O'Carroll said Sherlock could have been “more of a gentleman” or made more effort in relation to the contraception. He said Sherlock had not been aware of the woman's mental health issues.

Sherlock's mother wrote to the court saying her son was a “caring, kind and generous” young man and she was immensely proud of him. She said she knew “the real Martin” and had concerns for how he would cope in prison.

His mother said adverse publicity surrounding the case which contained mistruths and unfounded allegations would be linked to him in perpetuity. She said he had been sacked due to the case.

Sherlock's fiancée said she had known him since 2011 and he had contributed to their relationship “in every way a partner should”. She outlined how Sherlock had assisted her when she was seriously ill.

She said she had been “utterly shocked” when she found out about the case. She said Sherlock was not coping well and was petrified about what was to come. She said she had to cancel their wedding plans.

She described Sherlock as a “caring, kind, generous and shy man” who had never been in trouble before and she had no doubt he would not re-offend.

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