Tuesday 25 June 2019

Former 'Ros na Rún' actor for sentence over oral rape

Reporting restrictions were lifted allowing Garrett Phillips’s identity to be revealed by the media
Reporting restrictions were lifted allowing Garrett Phillips’s identity to be revealed by the media
Garrett Phillips had been in a West End ‘Rat Pack’ show

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A former 'Ros na Rún' actor is to be sentenced for orally raping a young woman who fell asleep in his van as he gave her a lift home.

Garrett Phillips (46), of St Mary's Terrace, Taylor's Hill, Galway, was convicted after a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court of orally raping the woman, then aged 20, on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5, 2015. He had pleaded not guilty.

The court heard that the father of two worked in his family's business before getting into acting. He had been appearing on stage as Frank Sinatra in a West End production called 'Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas' before his trial.

Reading from her victim impact statement, the woman said her life was destroyed by the attack.

"I was high-achieving. My life was a train on a track in the right direction," she stated.

She said the court process, during which she had to sit inches away from her attacker, was one of the hardest things she had ever had to do. She said she was made to feel like a liar when giving her evidence.

Det Garda Evelyn Barratt said Phillips approached the woman as she sat alone and upset on a park bench and offered her a lift home.

The woman took the lift, and on the way Phillips asked her if she had ever seen an overview of the city lights. The woman replied that she hadn't, fell asleep and when she woke up, Phillips was standing over her orally raping her.

The detective said the woman reacted strongly, got out of the van, memorised the registration and then ran to a nearby home for help.

During the trial, the jury heard that Phillips claimed the encounter was consensual. He told gardaí that it had started off "very tender" and felt "chemical" between him and the woman.

He told gardaí that he drove off feeling "panicky" when the woman got out of his van.

Defence counsel Barry White SC submitted to Ms Justice Creedon that there had been "great difficulty" in getting Phillips to realise the gravity of matters and there was a lack of realisation on his part.

Yesterday, Mr White submitted that Phillips wished to "unreservedly apologise for his behaviour". Mr White said his client had not informed his wife about the matter until the evening before his trial last month.

He asked the judge to keep reporting restrictions on his client's identity until the sentence was finalised in consideration of his family. Mr Burns submitted that there were no exceptional circumstances in the case.

Ms Justice Creedon lifted the restrictions and adjourned the sentence to July when the matter will be finalised. She ordered a Probation Service report and remanded Phillips on continuing bail until that date.

Irish Independent

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