A man who raped two women in his apartment after meeting them on a night out must wait to hear the outcome of an appeal against his conviction.
Clement Limen (47) of North Court, Quayside, Sligo town, was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of raping the two woman at his flat on June 2, 2014.
The trial heard that Limen invited the two women back to his apartment for a party after meeting them in a nightclub on the June bank holiday weekend.
The Central Criminal Court heard that the women, who were lifelong friends aged in their 30s, initially “fobbed him off”. But later they decided to travel back to his home with 10 other people he had invited from the club to the party.
Both women recalled Limen giving them “a very strong drink that tasted like vodka” before “going totally blank”.
One woman said she remembered waking up on a couch, feeling very disorientated, before realising that Limen was raping her. She found her friend in a bedroom, lying on her back. They fled the apartment and rang one of their husbands, who came to collect them.
During the trial, Limen denied raping either of the women, telling the court that he made them “a cocktail with grenadine and vodka”. He claimed he had consensual unprotected sex with one woman, and denied having sex with the other victim.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey noted the trauma and anguish caused by Limen's attacks on the women before he imposed a prison sentence of seven-and-a-half years on December 11, 2017. He had no previous convictions.
Limen, a university graduate from Cameroon who has been living in Ireland for nine years, moved to appeal his conviction on Thursday in the Court of Appeal where judgment was reserved.
His barrister, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that the prosecution inadvertently introduced the concept of “system evidence” in it’s closing speech to the jury.
Mr Bowman said prosecuting counsel referred to striking similarities between the victims’ accounts of what happened in the apartment, that the complainants’ evidence was independent of each other and that “collusion” had not been challenged by the defence.
The concern was that the jury were told they were free to use the evidence of one complainant to corroborate the evidence of the other, Mr Bowman submitted. It was possible that the words used by prosecution counsel caused a “chain reaction” in the minds of the jury to conclude adversely for the accused, he added.
The court heard that a different defence counsel at trial did not raise any issue with the words used in the prosecutions’ closing speech, having considered the matter over lunch.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Eileen O’Leary SC, said there was never an intention to introduce system evidence in the trial. Ms O’Leary said the words had their ordinary meaning. The complainants had left the accused’s apartment almost immediately after being raped and went to the nearest garda station where separate statements were taken in separate interview rooms.
Whether similarities in their accounts supported the other was a matter for the jury, Ms O’Leary said.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court would reserve its judgment.
In a victim impact statement, one woman told the court that her life had changed dramatically since that night. “I was once carefree and fun-loving. I became introverted and racked with anxiety. I regularly wake with a jolt, thinking he is standing over me,” she said.
She said she sometimes gets up in the middle of the night to check doors and windows are locked. “If he had pleaded guilty and apologised, I could have forgiven him. But he taunted us at every opportunity, he showed no remorse, was arrogant and told nauseating lies,” she said.
The second woman said in her victim impact statement that she was still coming to terms with the incident that destroyed the last three years of her life. “It is impossible to underestimate what has been done to me unless you're standing in my shoes,” she said. “He carried my listless body into a bedroom where he violated and raped me.”
“I am fearful this statement will not do justice to the pain and humiliation I suffered and I’m scared of that failure,” she said.
The woman said she recalled lying on the examination bed at a hospital the following day and crying her heart out because she had never felt so lonely.
Both victims said Limen's refusal to give gardaí a blood sample in order to test him for sexually transmitted diseases caused them considerable distress.
“I had to go to an STD clinic, which was humiliating as I am a married woman. The anti-HIV medication made me violently sick and extremely gaunt. It was an extra blow to put us through,” one woman said.
Both women praised their partners, family and friends for supporting them, but said every person in both of their lives have suffered as a result of Limen's crimes.
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