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Retrial ordered for nurse convicted of rape

THE family of an Irish nurse jailed for raping another woman in an Australian hotel toilet has said they are relieved after she was released pending a retrial.

Anne Marie O'Loughlin (26) was sentenced to two-and-a-half years for raping the married woman in the hotel in Brisbane.

She was convicted in February on two counts of digital rape and one of deprivation of liberty at the hotel on November 29, 2009.

She was found not guilty of a fourth charge of sexual assault.

But Ms O'Loughlin had appealed on the grounds the verdicts were unsafe and unsatisfactory and that the judge misdirected the jury on a key issue.

In a unanimous judgment, the Queensland Court of Appeal set aside the convictions and ordered a new trial.

Ms O'Loughlin was released on conditional bail yesterday.

Her father, Shay O'Loughlin, from Fann, Edenderry, Co Offaly, has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of his daughter since her arrest in 2009.

"We are thrilled she has got a retrial," he said yesterday. "We are fully confident that she will be acquitted.

"She is in great form, she was quite emotional when she got the word.

"She is very physically and mentally strong, she is very well through it all. She was drinking a cup of Barry's tea when I was talking to her. She said she never tasted anything like it."

Ms O'Loughlin will have to remain in Australia for the retrial, which is listed for August 22.

Outside court, her solicitor, Neil Lawler, said his client was keen to have the matter resolved so she could return to Ireland.

The five-day trial in February heard Ms O'Loughlin attacked the 32-year-old woman in the female toilets of the hotel.

The victim, who cannot be named, told the court she kissed Ms O'Loughlin in the toilets for up to three minutes.

But she insisted she had not given consent for Ms O'Loughlin to pull up her top and bra and touch her breast.

She further claimed she had not consented to being digitally penetrated by Ms O'Loughlin. Taking into account the time served awaiting the trial in February, the nurse would have been due for release on parole in March of next year.

Her father said last night that her brother John was with her.

"He's there and he is meeting her this evening," he said.

Mr O'Loughlin praised the Irish Australian Support Association: "They were unbelievably helpful and supportive to us when we were out in February."

He added that he would like to return to Australia for the retrial.

Irish Independent