Thursday 15 November 2018

Former soap actor 'unreservedly apologises' to young woman after conviction for oral rape

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 one charge of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5, 2015.Pic Collins Courts
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 one charge of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5, 2015.Pic Collins Courts
Garrett Phillips had been appearing on stage in London in the run-up to his trial

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A former Ros Na Rún actor will be sentenced later 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 one charge of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5, 2015.

He had pleaded not guilty to the offence and has no previous convictions.

The court heard that the father-of-two initially worked in his family's business before getting into acting and had been appearing on stage in London up to his trial.

Reading from her victim impact statement, the woman said she had been very social and doing well in her studies before the attack.

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

The woman described how she is now a changed person, that she has questioned her will to live and started to “feel emotions that were foreign to me”.

She says in the time since the assault, she still feels like the same 20-year-old girl banging on a door for help.

She said the court process, during which she had to sit inches away from her attacker, was one of the hardest things she has ever had to do. She said she was forced to speak about something painful and made to feel like a liar when giving her evidence over two days.

Detective Garda Evelyn Barratt told Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that 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 no longer in the driver's seat but standing over her with his penis in her mouth.

The detective said the woman reacted strongly, got out of the van, memorised the registration and 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.

Today defence counsel Barry White SC 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.

Det Gda Barratt agreed that Phillips took up acting after working in the family business and had been appearing on stage in London in the run-up to the trial.

Mr White handed in testimonials on his client's behalf and submitted to Ms Justice Eileen Creedon that he wished to make his plea in mitigation on the next date.

He asked the judge to keep reporting restrictions on his client's identity until the sentence was finalised. He said that this was because there was “not just one victim in the case, there are four”, referring to Phillips' wife and two children.

Mr Burns submitted that there were no exceptional circumstances in the case, that other convicted people have families and the law gave the court no power to extend the reporting restrictions.

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.

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