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'Danger to society' man moves to appeal conviction for raping heavily-pregnant girlfriend

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

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'Danger to society' man moves to appeal conviction for raping heavily-pregnant girlfriend

'Danger to society' Dublin man moves to appeal conviction for raping heavily-pregnant girlfriend

A man described as a “danger to society” has brought an appeal against his conviction for raping his heavily-pregnant girlfriend.

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

He was subsequently found guilty of two counts of raping his partner in December 2014, days before she was due to give birth to their second child. He had denied all charges throughout two trials. 

Jailing him for five years for the sexual assaults, Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy 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.

She described his actions as “sneaky, underhand and clandestine” and said the 40-year-old woman felt “humiliated, embarrassed and degraded” particularly as the videos of the assault were played in court.

“Any person who is willing to drug another person for his own sexual needs is a danger to society,” Ms Justice Murphy said.

Following the rape trial, Mr Justice Paul Butler imposed a concurrent sentence of 10 years imprisonment with the final two years suspended.

The man moved to appeal his conviction for rape on Tuesday on a number of grounds in the Court of Appeal, where judgment was reserved. 

His barrister, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that the trial judge erred when he told the jury they could consider the consistency of the complainant’s account as being supportive "or corroborative" of the prosecution case.

The trial judge should not have said “or corroborative”, Mr Bowman submitted, because the jury had just been told that corroboration was independent evidence. He conflated consistency of the complainant’s account with corroboration, counsel submitted, which was an error in law. 

Mr Bowman said the jury were given this instruction just before they began their deliberations and if they acted upon it, they convicted on a basis that was legally incorrect. 

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Eileen O'Leary SC, said corroboration was correctly explained to the jury and the trial judge "strongly" warned them on the dangers of convicting in the absence of corroboration.

Ms O'Leary said the trial judge intended to convey the existence of other evidence, which was consistent with the complainant's account. That's what six experienced lawyers in court thought the judge intended to convey, she said, because there was no request made of the judge to clarify what was said at the time.

Given the strength of the other evidence in the case, there could be no apprehension of an injustice arising, Ms O'Leary said.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court would reserve its judgment. 

Further grounds of appeal were submitted in relation to adverse publicity ahead of the man’s second trial, the trial judge's refusal to exclude some of the man’s Garda interviews and the failure of the gardaí to retain certain items like bed sheets and the complainant's mobile phone.

Mr Bowman said the man was convicted of sexual assault in September 2016 and sentenced the following February. A jury disagreement on the two rape counts were retried in March 2017, six weeks after he was sentenced for sexual assault, which gave rise to adverse publicity. 

A newspaper article by The Irish Sun was submitted to the Central Criminal Court on grounds of adverse publicity. Neither the man nor the complainant were named in the article. It referenced their ages, her pregnancy and the fact he had filmed himself sexually assaulting her.

The man said he didn't see the article himself because he didn't have access to newspapers or the internet in prison, but a relative had told him about it.