Friday 14 December 2018

Man found guilty of orally raping young woman who fell asleep in his van as he gave her a lift

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

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Galway man has been convicted of orally raping a young woman who had fallen asleep in his van while he gave her a lift home from a night out.

The man (46) had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to one charge of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman at a Galway location in the early hours of November 5, 2015.

Today Ms Justice Eileen Creedon ordered that reporting restrictions remain in place until after the man is sentenced in May.

During the trial, the victim told the jury that she accepted the lift from the man after first encountering him with his dog while she sat alone and upset in a park.

She said she fell asleep on the journey and woke up to find her assailant standing up in the van opposite her with his right leg on the seat beside her and his penis in her mouth.

The woman told the jury she memorised the van's registration plate as he sped off and then ran to the nearest house repeating this number out loud.

The man claimed in his garda interview that he had driven out to a vantage point on the outskirts of the city at the woman's suggestion.

He said their faces “kind of met” while they stopped to look at a view of the city lights and that it was a consensual encounter which had started off “very tender” and felt “chemical”.

He then claimed that his victim gave him oral sex for a few seconds before she stated: “I've a boyfriend”.

He claimed she put her head back, became unresponsive and then sprang upright in anger. The court heard the man has no previous convictions.

The jury of eight men and four women took four hours and 15 minutes to return their majority 11-1 verdict.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon thanked the jury members their time and attention to the case and exempted them from further duty for seven years.

She directed the man be registered as a sex offender and remanded him on continuing bail until his sentence date in May.

The young woman told the jury that she awoke to find the man's penis in her mouth after falling asleep while he gave her a lift home.

She said she had accepted the lift after encountering him as she was sitting alone and upset in a park from various stressors in her life.

She said they had a conversation and she later got into his van, before falling asleep after seeing a hotel on the route and hearing him say something about an overview of the city lights.

The woman told Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that she next recalled the man standing up in the van opposite her with his right leg on the seat beside her and his penis in her mouth.

She described “crying hysterically and screaming”, retrieving her phone from him and running around to the back of the van where she memorised the number plate.

She said she ran to a nearby house “and just started ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door, just kept saying the number plate.” She said the family in this house rang gardaí.

The woman denied when Barry White SC, defending, suggested that she had put her arm around his client while on the park bench.

She said it was “not true” that she and the man kissed passionately at the view location and that she had performed consensual oral sex on him.

She further denied repeating “I've a boyfriend”, becoming unresponsive in the van and then springing “bolt upright” in anger.

Another witness told the court that she and her parents opened their front door to the woman, who was crying with “makeup all down her face”.

The witness said she noticed the complainant's zip had been fully down on her jeans, while the top button was done. She said the complainant was repeating a vehicle's registration when she first came into the house.

A local garda described taking photos and measurements of the seized van and listed various cabin measurements, including the distance from the passenger seat's edge to the dashboard.

He agreed with Mr White that he did not seek assistance from colleagues sitting in to see how far a person's legs would come out from the seat.

The man told gardaí during a voluntary interview that the woman had indicated to him that he could drive towards a vantage point of the city during the lift to her home. He claimed to gardaí that they had a passionate kiss here before he pulled his van about 20 meters into a nearby housing estate and they continued with “heavy petting”.

The man said the woman gave him oral sex for a few seconds before she started repeating: “I've a boyfriend”.

He said she put her head back, “seemed suddenly out of it” and unresponsive and then sprang upright. The man claimed the woman shouted at him to get away from her, she demanded her phone and wanted him to drive her to a garda station.

A detective told Mr Burns that the man said he drove off feeling “panicky” when the woman got out of his van. He described how he had felt like a “Good Samaritan” by approaching her as she sat alone audibly crying on a park bench.

When gardaí asked him to explain why a woman 20 years younger would perform oral sex on him, he replied that “it was more sensual” and that it “felt chemical” between them.

The detective agreed with Mr White that his client had been contacted by gardaí under three hours before he presented voluntarily for interview.

She agreed that the man had answered all questions voluntarily and had no previous convictions.

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