Friday 22 February 2019

Man accused of raping woman with Down Syndrome 'does not have intelligence to adapt to social norms in Ireland' - trial hears

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Conor Gallagher

A Pakistani man accused of raping a woman with Down syndrome does not have the intelligence to adapt to social norms in Ireland, a trial has been told.

Giving evidence for the defence, psychologist Dr Rioghnach O'Leary said the 34-year-old came from an area of Pakistan where Sharia law was practised and where there were strict rules against physical contact between men and women.

She said that the accused was in the bottom three percent of the population in cognitive functioning and as a result “would have difficulty in adapting to social norms.”

The doctor also said that he showed a elevated sexual preoccupation and that he had a “singular focus on women as potential sexual partners.”

The accused has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape, sexual assault and having sex with a mentally impaired person at his Dublin home on June 12, 2013. He admits there was some sexual contact with the woman but maintains that it was consensual and that he didn't know she was mentally impaired.

Dr O'Leary told defence counsel Padraig Dwyer SC that her first impression of the accused when she met him in October was as a calm, confident and psychologically resilient person who did not appear very stressed.

She said he told her he came from a middle-class family in Pakistan and had a happy childhood. She said he grew up within a strict Islamic culture and that his parents had arranged a marriage for him with his cousin.

When he moved to Ireland to find work he did not interact with any women for two years and was surprised “at the more liberal approach here”, Dr O'Leary said.

Couples holding hands and kissing on the street were “quite jarring” to him.

He told the doctor that after a few years he began to go to nightclubs and bring women home to his house for sex which he realised he found very enjoyable. He later, “with some success”, began propositioning women on the street and started using prostitutes, Dr O'Leary said.

The doctor told the court that he viewed his behaviour as normal and kept repeating that it was legal in this country. She said he told her he “had sex” or “consensual fun” with the alleged victim and that he was “entirely unaware she had Down syndrome.”

He said he planned to marry his cousin when he went home on holiday and that afterwards he would return to Ireland while she remained in Pakistan with their children.

Dr O'Leary said the intelligence tests she performed suggested he would have difficulties in “reading situations, analysing situations and forming appropriate responses.” She said his overall IQ was 73, where below 70 indicated a mental disability.

Dr O'Leary agreed with prosecuting counsel Caroline Biggs SC in cross-examination that the accused was able to travel to Ireland alone, find accommodation and gain employment.

Ms Biggs put it to her that he also had a CV which stated he had completed two third level courses. Dr O'Leary said the accused claimed he falsified this CV to get a job.

The doctor also agreed that she did not carry out “lie scales” testing which would show if the subject was attempting to skew the results of the intelligence tests. She said this was because of time constraints.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of six men and six women.

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