Monday 19 March 2018

Man accused of raping woman he met on Tinder found not guilty by jury

Stock photo
Stock photo

Eimear Cotter

A 35-YEAR-OLD man has been found not guilty by a jury of raping a woman he met on the dating app Tinder.

He said "thank you so much" when the jury delivered the verdict.

He hugged his sister and his father, and started to cry.

He shouted at gardai: "You stitch up sc****g, you stitch up b*****d, stitch up c**t" as he left the courtroom.

The young woman had to be comforted by her parents and gardai, as she was led sobbing from court.

The man had claimed he had “fully consensual sex” with the woman, and told gardai, during interview, that he didn’t beat her up, or use violence or threats.

The woman, in her evidence, said she was terrified the man was going to beat her and she had to have sex with him.

The jury was told that the woman was in contact with six other men on Tinder within 36 hours of the alleged rape.

She gave evidence that she wanted to pretend nothing had happened.

The defendant told gardai he did not rape the woman, saying “I did not rape that girl, as much as you’ve tried to intimidate me, I will not change”.

However, he admitted he “hoped” and “expected” to have sex with her because of earlier text conversations.

The man had pleaded not guilty to rape at Kilmashogue Lane, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin on September 11, 2014.

It was the State’s case that the accused raped the university student in his car after driving her up the Dublin Mountains following a visit to McDonald's.

The defence team had claimed the woman’s evidence was not credible.

The jury heard the woman had no intention of making a complaint to gardai, and she told her flatmate it was the “worst date ever”. It was her flatmate who contacted gardai, the Central Criminal Court heard.

Following just over four hours of deliberations, the jury of six men and six women returned a not guilty verdict.

The accused had tears in his eyes and started to cry when the verdict was announced. His sister shouted in delight and she and his father hugged him.

In her evidence, the 31-year-old woman, who was a university student at the time, said the pair arranged to go for “a spin and a coffee”.

She said he told her they would take the “long way back” to the city as he drove down an unlit rural road.

She said that after a brief kissing session she told him to “take it easy”. He said to her “what the f**k do you think we're here for?”.

She told him she didn't want a “one night stand” and got out of his car after he told her to “get the f**k out”. He drove off and she tried to ring a friend but there was no signal.

The car disappeared from sight but returned a few minutes later. The man told her “it's grand, get in” and she got in because she felt she didn't have a choice.

She said she didn't know where she was and he seemed a bit calmer.

He drove the car back to where they had been and he stopped the car. He turned off the car lights and they were in complete darkness, she said.

He began kissing her again. She told him to take it easy. He leaned over and pulled a lever to drop her seat back and moved quickly to get on top of her.

He took her hand and put it inside her pants and called her a “sexy b***h”. She moved her hand away but he said “just f*****g touch it”.

 “I was afraid he was going to beat the shit out of me,” she said. She put both her hands to his chest and said “seriously, stop”.

He pulled her jeans down to her knees. She said she was terrified.

“He lifted up my legs. I stopped resisting him then,” she testified. She said he then raped her.

Afterwards he said: “That was sh*t. I would have last longer if you hadn't teased”.

He dropped her home and later sent her a WhatsApp message with a smiley face, which she deleted.

During cross examination, defending counsel Michael Bowman SC put it to her that while the date did not go as anticipated, she “willingly undressed herself” and had sex with the accused.

“It was a consensual sexual encounter between two young people who met on the internet,” he said. The woman rejected that this was what took place.

The court heard that in the 36 hours following the date the woman had Tinder conversations with six men.

In his interviews with gardai, the accused said he “hoped” and “expected” to have sex with the woman.

“At the end of the day it’s Tinder and she said she’s horny”, he said, adding his mindset was that they were meeting up to have sex.

He asked her for a kiss and they started making out, and he played with her breasts.

She told him to stop, which he did, and they were talking and then they kissed a second time.

He said she asked him if he had any condoms, and he said he had even though he didn’t.

He then lay on top of her and she “let me have sex with her”. It lasted about five minutes, he told gardai.

The accused said the woman didn’t say no, he didn’t beat her up, or use violence, threats or force.

He said the woman was “a bit hostile” afterwards, telling him “you little sh*t, you tricked me into having sex with you”.

He also told gardai he thought the woman was “a bit cold” and “rude”. He said he wanted to hold her and be affectionate with her, but she told him she wanted her space.

He said he then dropped her home.

Mr Justice Paul Butler thanked the jury for their service.

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