Former Irish soap actor jailed for 'predatory' rape granted legal aid for conviction appeal

Former Irish soap actor jailed for 'predatory' rape granted legal aid for conviction appeal

A former Irish soap actor jailed for a “predatory” and “callous” rape of a young woman to whom he had given a lift home has been granted legal aid for an appeal. 

Former Ros na Rún actor Garrett Phillips (47) of St Mary's Terrace, Taylor's Hill, Galway, was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5, 2015.

He had pleaded not guilty to the offence and had no previous convictions.

Sentencing him to six years imprisonment, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said the “callous rape” of the young woman involved a “predatory element”.

The judge said: “She was vulnerable, alone in a park late at night and visibly upset. He made her feel safe by offering his jacket, kind words and a lift home, but he never brought her home."

Phillips has lodged an appeal against his conviction, which has yet to be given a date for hearing in the Court of Appeal. 

Counsel for Phillips, Ange Bolly BL, applied for legal aid for the appeal on Friday. Mr Bolly said his client had no source of income nor assets. 

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham granted legal aid to Phillips for two counsel. 

Phillips, who had been on legal aid for his trial, was not in court for the procedural matter. 

The Central Criminal Court heard that Phillips approached the woman as she sat alone and upset on a park bench and offered her a lift home. She accepted the lift and, on the way, Phillips asked her if she had ever seen an overview of the city lights. The woman replied that she hadn't and fell asleep.

When she woke up Phillips was no longer in the driver's seat but standing over her raping her. The detective said the woman reacted strongly, got out of the van, memorised the registration and ran to a nearby home for help.

During the trial, the jury heard that Phillips claimed the encounter was consensual. He told gardaí that it had started off “very tender” and felt “chemical” between him and the woman.

The court heard that the father-of-two initially worked in his family's business before getting into acting and had been appearing on stage in London up to his trial.

Defence counsel Barry White SC said his client had not informed his wife about the matter until the evening before his trial.

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