Sunday 15 September 2019

Man who raped wife's sister-in-law in 'inherently violent' assault after family Christmas gathering jailed

The Central Criminal Court
The Central Criminal Court

Sony McLean

A MAN who raped his wife's sister-in-law following a Christmas family gathering has been given a seven-year sentence with the final two years suspended.

The Central Criminal Court heard the woman woke up in her own bedroom on Christmas night to find the accused raping her. The woman immediately reported the rape to her husband, who confronted the man.

The man apologised and claimed that he had gone into the wrong bedroom by mistake and had believed that the complainant was his wife.

The 40-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the woman, was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury earlier this year. He had pleaded not guilty to raping the woman following a Christmas Day gathering at the woman's home in 2016.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart commended the woman for her “courage and bravery” and said she hoped in time that she would be able to put it behind her and “retrieve the life you had before”.

She had revoked the man's bail following his sentence hearing last month and adjourned the case to allow her various documents handed into court

“What occurred was a serious breach of trust in a family situation where the accused had been a guest in (the injured party's) home,” said Ms Justice Stewart today. She noted that the offence of rape was “inherently violent” and that the impact on the woman's life had been “truly profound”.

She placed the offence at the lower end of the severe category for this offence and set a headline sentence of nine years. She took into account in mitigation the accused’s expression of remorse, lack of prior convictions, previous good character and testimonials handed into court on his behalf.

Ms Justice Stewart imposed a seven-year sentence and suspended the final two on strict conditions.

The woman read her victim impact statement in which she said that she was “not the mother or wife I was before this”. She later said that the family had “not been able to celebrate Christmas as we used to”.

“We have lost our ability to entertain in our home and have distanced ourselves from our family and friends,” the woman continued.

She said she feels constantly frightened and unable to sleep. When she does sleep, she is “plagued with nightmares” and her home no longer feels like “a safe place”.

The woman also spoke of how her marriage had “suffered”. “We have retreated into ourselves,” the woman said before she added that her husband “felt powerless in his own home”.

She said he had been unable to cope and it was “very sad for me to watch him suffer”. “He has always been our protector,” the woman said before she added that he felt he was not able to protect her that night.

The woman said that her “life has changed dramatically” and she spoke of how her parents had gone through a lot of heartache and her in-laws had been devastated.

She said it had also had a “horrific effect” on her sister-in-law, the wife of the accused, whom she herself had been friends with since their school days.

“Her marriage fell apart,” the woman continued “her world has been pulled apart and I have not been able to support her as I usually would”.

The woman said her own children had been deprived of their cousins, aunts and uncles “but most importantly their own parents...we have not been able to be there for them,” she said.

She concluded her statement by speaking of how during the trial, she felt her dignity was “stripped away from me” in front of her husband and parents.

She said the fact that “my husband had to listen in great detail to what happened to me,” was “heart-breaking”.

A local detective told Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, that the accused, his wife and their daughters were staying over in the woman's house that night following a gathering for Christmas day with her family. The man's wife was the complainant's husband's sister.

Sometime after midnight she went to bed to have a rest with the intention of returning downstairs later as she still had guests at the party.

She said she later woke up to find someone having sex with her and assumed it was her husband. She was lying on her side with her tights down and her dress still on, while the person was behind her.

The woman found the situation strange, she looked around and saw that it was not her husband but the accused.

She asked the man “what the f are you doing in my room? what the f are you doing?” and thought that he responded “go back to sleep”. He then left the room.

She went downstairs to her husband and told him that his brother-in-law had raped her.

Her husband called the man to come downstairs. The accused came down and said he was sorry that he had gone into the wrong room and he thought that the complainant was his wife. The complainant's husband told him to leave the house.

The woman made a statement to gardaí a week later and the accused was later interviewed. He later gave a prepared statement to gardaí.

The detective agreed with Roisin Lacey SC, defending, that neither her client, nor any member of his family, have ever come to garda attention.

Ms Lacey said she had “explicit instructions” from her client to offer an unreserved apology to her and her family. Counsel said her client accepted the verdict of the jury.

Ms Lacey said her client was “an important and pivotal person in his children's life” and he was devoted and dedicated to them.

A letter from his current partner said he plays an active part in supporting her as a mother.

His parents and brother were in court to support him and they had written references for the court which stated that he was a loving and supportive son and brother.

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