28 May 2022

'Danger to society': Man loses appeal against conviction for sexually assaulting sleeping partner

Dublin: Waterford: 'Danger to society': Man loses appeal against conviction for sexually assaulting sleeping partner

Dublin man loses appeal against conviction for sexually assaulting sleeping partner

A man described by a judge as “a danger to society” has lost an appeal against his conviction for drugging his heavily-pregnant girlfriend and filming himself sexually assaulting her.

The Dublin man (55), who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury on three counts of sexually assaulting his partner by touching her anal area on three occasions in November 2014.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two further allegations that he raped his partner in December 2014, days before she was due to give birth to their second child, but he was found guilty of these charges at a subsequent retrial. 

In sentencing him to seven-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final two-and-a-half years suspended for the sexual assaults, Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy said the man’s actions were “sneaky, underhand and clandestine”. 

She said it was “shocking” that the man felt himself entitled to abuse anyone in this way, noting that the victim was his partner, the mother of his child and eight months pregnant with their second child together. Ms Justice Murphy said the 40-year-old victim felt “humiliated, embarrassed and degraded” particularly as the videos of the assaults were played in court. 

The judge said it was ironic that the man's “arrogance, vanity and perverse” behaviour in creating videos of the abuse was the “compelling evidence” which led to his conviction and justice being served.

Upholding his conviction on Monday, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the Court of Appeal was satisfied that the trial judge’s instructions to the jury were fair and balanced. 

The man’s barrister, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that the trial judge interrupted the defendant’s testimony in a way that was “disparaging to him” and made many comments adverse to him, “thus demonstrating objective bias”. 

However, Ms Justice Kennedy said the trial judge’s interventions could only be seen as “justified and restrained”. She said an issue had arisen about discrepancies on the ex-couples’ mobile phones and the man was “reluctant to provide a focused answer to these questions”.

When one examined each of the judge’s interventions separately and collectively, Ms Justice Kennedy said the Court of Appeal was satisfied that the trial judge acted in a fair and proper manner. 

She said the interventions were confined to seeking clarification of the defendant’s answers or were an effort to resolve ambiguities or inaccuracies. 

Ms Justice Kennedy, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, dismissed the appeal. 

The man’s appeal against conviction in relation to the two rape counts remains outstanding. 

The Central Criminal Court heard that the man was arrested in January 2015 and his phone was examined. Gardaí found three video clips, ranging in length from 31 seconds to 57 seconds taken in the middle of the night on three different dates in November 2014. The woman was eight months pregnant at the time.

Garda Brendan Harte told prosecuting lawyers that the videos, which were shown at trial, showed a man putting his finger inside a woman's anus as she slept in the bed beside him. A torch was used to illuminate the assault.

The victim identified herself in the video and the man admitted he had taken the video. He claimed it was consensual.

“The accused told her he had drugged her on occasion because he thought she needed sleep,” Gda Harte said.

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