independent

Thursday 17 October 2019

Woman forgives former partner who raped her while she slept

Man is given a five-and-a-half year sentence

A woman has forgiven the former partner who raped her while she slept in bed, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Reading from her victim impact statement, the woman told the 59-year-old Wicklow man: 'I have forgiven you, more for my own peace of mind so I won't be bitter.'

The man, who cannot be named to protect the woman's anonymity, was convicted by a jury last December of one charge of rape in Co Wicklow on November 5, 2015.

He had denied the charge and has no previous convictions.

On Friday, Ms Justice Carmel Stewart imposed a seven-year sentence, with the final 18 months suspended.

She commended the woman on her 'heartfelt' victim impact statement and for 'bravely' stating she had forgiven the man.

'The court can only wish her well and a full recovery in time for the ordeal that was inflicted on her,' Ms Justice Stewart said.

A local sergeant told Róisín Lacey SC, prosecuting, that the woman had a short relationship with the man that ended in 2015.

She began a new relationship later that year, which provoked some 'hostility' from the man. The court heard the man and woman had lived at the same address. On the evening before the attack, he sent her a text asking to talk to her.

The woman went out that night with friends and, on her return home, she contacted the man by phone to say there was no need to talk. She went to bed and later woke up to the smell of chips, someone trying to put chips into her mouth and the words 'open your legs'.

She saw the man naked and having sex with her. She later told gardaí she froze but shook her head from side to side.

When the man had finished, she got out of bed and located fresh pyjama bottoms as her previous pair had been removed. She then left the house with her bag and keys.

She made some phone calls and later went with her boyfriend to gardaí. The man maintained during interview that the encounter had been consensual.

Reading from her victim impact statement, the woman said that one of her biggest fears was to be trapped down an alleyway and violently raped.

She said it happened instead when she was at her most vulnerable, while asleep in bed, and by someone she had cared for.

The woman revealed that the medical exam was almost like being raped again because she had to stand naked in a cold, clinical room and have every part of her body checked over and swabbed. She said it felt like she was not in control of her body.

She said to this day her thoughts are consumed by the rape, that she had never felt hurt and pain like it and that she had been prescribed medication to help her cope. She said she couldn't deal with the fact the man would not acknowledge what he had done.

The woman paid tribute to her partner, friends and family who have supported her, though she said her mental health is still suffering.

Mary Rose Gearty SC, defending, submitted to Ms Justice Stewart that her client is an 'exemplary father' to his children of previous relationships. She handed in character references and asked the judge to take into account the man's previous good record.

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