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Court overturns Dublin man's conviction for rape of his heavily-pregnant partner

The man was found guilty of two counts of rape following a three-week trial in 2017.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A MAN DESCRIBED as a “danger to society” who was found guilty of raping his heavily-pregnant partner has had his conviction overturned on appeal.

The Central Criminal Court trial had heard that the woman gave birth to the couple’s second child three days after the rape.

The Dublin man (55), who cannot be identified to protect the anonymity of the victim, was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury on two counts of rape at his home on the 22 December and 23 December, 2014, following a three-week trial in April 2017.

He had already been convicted of three counts of sexual assault against the same victim.

The 2016 trial heard that the man had videoed these sexual assaults using a torch and his mobile phone. He had denied all charges throughout the two trials.

Jailing him for five years for the sexual assaults, Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy had said: “Any person who is willing to drug another person for his own sexual needs, is a danger to society.”

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

In December last year, the man moved to have his conviction for the rape offences quashed on a number of grounds before the Court of Appeal.

The man’s barrister, Michael Bowman SC, had argued 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”, counsel 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.

‘Consistency of the complainant’

In a written judgement delivered earlier this month, Mr Justice John Edwards said the question for the court to consider was whether “the consistency of the complainant” could possibly be “supportive or corroborative of the prosecution case”, as was suggested by the trial judge.

The judge said that evidence pointing to consistency does not represent evidence additional to that of the complainant and so does not support the prosecution case.

He said the court did not believe such evidence is sufficiently independent of the complainant for it to represent possible corroboration in the legal sense.

He said the appeal court was satisfied that the judge’s charge did contain a misdirection in terms of what evidence was capable of supporting or corroborating the prosecution case and that it was reasonably possible the jury could have been misled by this.

The judge said the court would uphold the complaints made by the appellant concerning a misdirection on what was capable of amounting to corroboration and would allow the appeal on this sole ground.

All further grounds of appeal advanced by the man were rejected, including a point of appeal in relation to adverse publicity ahead of his second trial.

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Counsel had told the court that the man was convicted of sexual assault in September 2016 and sentenced on 6 February, 2017.

A jury disagreement on the two rape counts was retried in March 15 2017, six weeks after the man was sentenced for sexual assault, and it was argued there was a failure to postpone the trial over alleged adverse publicity.

On 20 March, a newspaper article in The Irish Sun, which had been published three weeks earlier, was submitted to the Central Criminal Court and the judge was asked to discharge the jury on grounds of adverse publicity.

Neither the man, the complainant nor the rape charges were named in the article. It referenced their ages, her pregnancy, and the fact he had filmed himself sexually assaulting her.

The judge said the court was satisfied that the trial judge dealt appropriately with the issue of adverse pretrial publicity and it was not necessary for him to discharge the jury.

In an order delivered electronically this morning, the judge said the court would quash the rape convictions recorded on the 6 April, 2017. No retrial was directed.

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Brian Kavanagh and Ruaidhri Giblin

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