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Insignia on the wall of the Central Criminal Court in Dublin Alamy Stock Photo

Man who raped woman while she was asleep in her family home jailed for six years

The woman said that in the aftermath of the attack, she walked into a church and asked God to take her.

A YOUNG CORK woman who woke up to find a friend raping her in her family home has said that in the aftermath of the attack that she walked into a church and asked God to take her.

The woman read her victim impact statement in the Central Criminal Court sentence hearing of the 25-year-old-man, who was today jailed for six years.

He was convicted by a jury following a trial on a charge of rape and a charge of sexual assault at her home on 27 January, 2020. He has no previous convictions.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said the injured party had been entitled to feel safe in her own environment but had been raped and sexually assaulted by someone she knew in her own home.

She said the accused man had taken advantage of the victim’s vulnerability as she was clearly intoxicated.

The judge said it was clear these events had an impact on the mental health, as well as the emotional and physical well-being of the young woman.

She noted the accused had maintained it was consensual at the time but reports before the court indicated he now had a better understanding of consent and accepted informed consent could not have been forthcoming as both parties were intoxicated.

Ms Justice Creedon set headline sentences of eight years for the rape and five years for the sexual assault.

She noted in mitigation he had accepted the jury verdict and expressed remorse. She also took into account his stable family circumstances, character references and good work history.

The judge imposed concurrent sentences totalling seven years with the final year suspended.

During a sentencing hearing last month, the woman outlined in her victim impact statement that there had been a big celebration in her local community after her sports team’s success at a final. She said a lot of people had a lot to drink.

She said she would never have worried previously about the man staying overnight in her home. Her parents had not hesitated in giving him permission to sleep on the couch that night to save him walking home.

“We would never have imagined the outcome of that night,” she said.

“I woke up to him raping me…his arms pressed on my shoulder. I turned and told him to stop but he never stopped, he continued,” the woman said before she added that when she “got an opportunity” she got out of the room.

“Since that night I have never felt the same. It has affected me so much, it is hard to describe. I quit the sport that I loved. I lost all self-worth and felt that I had lost myself,” she continued.

She said she started abusing medication to help her sleep. “I would wake up screaming,” she said before she described incidents of self-harm and trying to kill herself.

“Nobody could rely on me. I couldn’t rely on me. I drank. I could not manage my thoughts. I was a shell of myself. I felt scared of men, felt pain everywhere. Life got so difficult,” she said.

“I walked into a church and asked God to take me,” the woman continued.

She said however that “after a lot of hard work and intervention, I am a different person today. I am handing the shame back to you,” the woman told the man.

“I no longer choose to live in the shadows. I am now in a better place. I have returned to [my sport] and gym. This is a new chapter for me. I owe it to myself and my family. I look forward to my future.”

She concluded her statement by thanking the gardaí, her counsellor and her family “who got me through this”.

A local garda told Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, that following the celebrations in the local pub, the woman went to bed.

She woke up to find arms pushing on her shoulders and could hear talking and moaning, someone saying: “Oh my God, this is good”. 

She realised she was being raped. She told him to stop but he just kept saying how good it was. She managed to turn, and the man began to sexually assault her.

She didn’t shout and managed to get out of bed. She later told gardaí she knew it was the accused.

The garda gave evidence of communication between the accused and the woman including messages to her that night which went unanswered as she was asleep at that point. 

One of the messages read: “I obviously would have loved to kiss you”.

The garda said the man was arrested after the woman made the complaint. He had a different recollection of the night and claimed that the sex had been consensual.

The garda agreed that both the man and the woman had consumed a lot of alcohol on the night.

He agreed with Ronan Munro SC, defending, that the accused had been in the woman’s close social circle for a number of years, but there had never been any romantic involvement between them.

Mr Munro said that his client now accepts, through working with the Probation Service, that “consent cannot be forthcoming” in the circumstances of that night.

“She was in no fit state to consent and never was,” counsel said, before he added that his client “offered an apology in that respect”.

He said various testimonials and references before the court suggest that this was “out of character” for his client and asked the court to accept his lack of previous convictions.

Mr Munro presented case law which he asked the judge to take into account when sentencing his client and acknowledged that the probation report indicates that his client still has work to do.

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Sonya McLean and Fiona Ferguson