Sunday 9 December 2018

Man convicted of raping and threatening to kill his wife

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Stock picture

Conor Gallagher

A man has been convicted of raping and threatening to kill his wife as their marriage broke down in 2014.

It is thought to be only the third successful prosecution of rape within a marriage since marital rape was made illegal in 1990. The woman wept in court and hugged a supporter as the rape verdict came in.

The trial at the Central Criminal Court has now concluded after jurors were unable to agree on verdicts on two remaining charges that the man head-butted his wife in May 2014 and threatened her in the city centre in early August 2014.

The 13 day trial heard the accused began threatening violence against the woman after she told him she wanted to separate in early 2014.

The jury heard the relationship had been under strain for some time due to the man's jealously of the his wife's successful career and the attention she was giving their infant child.

The woman obtained a barring order against her husband the day after he raped her and threatened to cut her face open with a carving knife. However the threats continued over the phone and in person.

The woman gave evidence that she had to stay in contact with the accused because a family court judge ruled he should be given access to their child.

The eleven men and one woman returned staggered guilty verdicts over a two day period having deliberated for a total of eleven hours.

They convicted the man of raping his wife in their home in May, 2014 as their son slept downstairs and of threatening to cut her face immediately beforehand. He was also convicted of threatening to kill the woman the next day over the phone.

Jurors failed to reach verdicts on charges that he head-butted her and threatened to do “serious damage to her” when they met to discuss custody of their son.

The man denied the charges and told gardaí “She's like a snake, she bites you and goes down again, She lies very well.”

His defence counsel suggested the issues of ownership of their house or custody of their son might be the reasons behind the allegations, along with feelings of bitterness or revenge.

The 42 year old accused had already pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife with a hammer in August 2014. He pleaded not guilty to rape, assault causing harm and five counts of threats to kill or cause serious harm between May 24 and August 1, 2014. The jury had previously been instructed to return a not guilty verdict on a fifth threat charge.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy ordered the man be registered as a sex offender and remanded him in custody for sentencing on July 18 next. She thanked the jurors for their time and excused them from further service for 15 years.

Before the trial began, defence lawyers said their client, a “dark skinned (foreign) man”, could not get a fair trial “in circumstances where the jury panel will most likely be an all white, all Christian jury.”

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, suggested jurors could be hostile to the man's religion. Ms Justice Kennedy agreed to issue a warning that jurors should not serve if they felt they could not be impartial.

During the swearing in process the defence objected to all but one female juror. This resulted in a jury made up of eleven men and one woman. The jurors selected the woman to be the foreman.

Mr Dwyer, on his client's instructions, later asked Ms Justice Kennedy to recuse herself from hearing the trial because she had ruled against the accused on three applications. She refused and the trial proceeded.

The defence questioning of the woman focused on why, as a strong, intelligent woman, she didn't leave her husband after he first became threatening.

Referring to an incident when the man doused the living room in lighter fluid, Mr Dwyer suggested it was like “something out of a horror film” and that she must have been in fear of her life.

“He is now potentially homicidal and suicidal,” counsel said. “It would surely cause you to leave, if in fact it was true.”

Asked why she didn't leave and go to gardaí she said, “I’ve asked myself that question, I’ve asked myself that question about a lot of things. Why didn’t I leave earlier? It was a last resort for me to go to the guards and make statements.”

The trial heard the couple met in in 1999 and married in the early 2000s. They were very happy at the start and were trying for a baby, initially without success.

Eventually she became pregnant and they were both excited about the child. After the birth the woman was appointed to a very senior position in her organisation while the man was out of work.

The accused told the jury “something changed” after the birth of their child. He said the marriage became strained because his wife was working too many hours.

He claimed his wife was not paying enough attention to him and was giving all her time to her job and son. He also said her family never liked him and made him fell left out. The woman's parent's denied this.

The victim said she wanted to separate in March 2014. She alleged in court that shortly afterwards he head-butted her in the kitchen during a row over their child's birthday. He claimed she hit her head off the press.

A few days later she returned to find the living doused in lighter fluid and her husband sitting in a chair smoking cigarettes while their son slept upstairs. She stayed up all night cleaning the house.

Over the following nights the accused would pace the floor, becoming increasingly aggressive and telling her they weren't separating.

On one occasion he became very aggressive and told her “I can do this if I want; I can rape you if I want.” The rape occurred sometime after this on May 25, 2014.

Immediately beforehand he told her: “We’re finished talking, we’re staying together. I’ve decided we’re staying together. You don’t get to decide this. It will be my choice if we ever separate.”

She said he took up a knife and said he could cut her face open before pushing her upstairs and raping her.

Afterwards he told her “I'm not finished.” She said she “nearly fell apart” and promised him they would stay together. She said he told her “you better fucking mean it because if not, you’re dead.”

The next day she went to the Family Court and obtained an interim barring order before going to her parents. Her husband rang her there and told her she was “dead”. Her parents gave evidence that they overheard him saying this.

She said over the following weeks the accused seemed to know where she was at all times. She went to her phone settings and found that a tracking app had been installed without her knowledge.

In early June she was driving to work when he tried to get into her car. She drove away but was again confronted by the accused in a supermarket later that day. He demanded to see their son and tried to grab her keys from her before telling her “next time I'll bring a hammer.”

She said that as she was driving away, her husband was following her and crashed into the back of her at the traffic lights while child was in the back of her car.

In early August he allegedly grabbed the woman's arm when they met to arrange access visits for their child and told her “you want to drop all this barring order stuff because I'm going to do you serious damage.” The jury could not agree on this count.

On August 7th he hit her over the head with a hammer in front of several witnesses. This was the only offence he admitted to.

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