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'I remember thinking I was free, that he couldn't hurt me anymore. How wrong I was'

A woman whose ex-partner has been found guilty of rape gave a strong victim impact statement today.

Image: Shutterstock/THAWIWAT SAE-HENG

A WOMAN WHO was raped by her former partner has described how she spent the next three years in fear of him until he was finally jailed for raping another woman.

The 30-year-old man was found guilty by a jury last February of raping his former partner at their Cork home on 8 September 2013 following a Central Criminal Court trial.

Prior to the trial, he pleaded guilty to one count of orally raping her and to assault causing harm at the same address on 10 July 2013.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, is already serving a sentence for the rape of another woman. Mr Justice Paul Coffey will sentence him on 19 May.

In a lengthy statement, which took over half an hour to read out, the woman catalogued the numerous ways the man tried to regain control over her after he was charged with raping her and before he was jailed for raping another woman.

The woman described finding the courage to leave the man a few weeks after he sexually assaulted her in their home in July 2013 and return to her parents home.

“I remember thinking I was free,” she said. “That he couldn’t hurt (me) anymore. How wrong I was.”

The court heard the man raped the woman when she returned to his house for a brief visit on 9 September 2013. He was arrested and charged in February 2014, before being released on bail.

The woman said in the intervening years before he was jailed, the man did everything in his power to get close to her without breaching the barring order she took against him. “He was calculated,” she said.

She described how he moved to an apartment and then got a new job around the corner from her when she changed jobs.

She described how she started avoided the city except to attend weekly counselling. However, she said he somehow found out when she was in the city and crossed the bridge at the exact same time as her for six weeks in a row.

“As a result, I became a prisoner in my own home,” she said. She described how the city became a “maze filled with dark alleys and hidden corners where I feared he would be waiting for me”.

On one occasion, he called gardaí to her house after falsely reporting that a family member was in danger from her brother.

For a lengthy period of time, the family home alarm was set off almost every night, she said. “My brother started to sleep with a bat under his bed, my father with golf clubs,” she said.

“I had never known anything but love, compassion, nurturing,” she said, adding before she met the man, she was the kind of person who “would hug a stranger in the street and admire beauty in everything I saw”.

How totally naive I was.

The woman said the last four years have been “terrifying” and “stressful”.

“I hold on to hope for my future. I know I have done the right thing. It was far from easy,” she said.

“I was attacked, raped, lied to and deceived by the man I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with,” she said. “He broke my heart, spirit, my resolve. My strength of character was abolished.”

She said she spent three years in a relationship with the man, “being controlled by him” and a further four years “fearing” him. “That’s nearly a decade of my life I won’t get back.”

Prosecution barrister, Thomas Creed SC, said the man has convictions for rape, aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault of a woman. He has two previous convictions for breaching barring orders.

Mr Creed submitted that any sentence imposed should run consecutive to the sentence the man is already serving.

However Ciaran O’Loughlin SC, defending, said it would be an “error” to impose a consecutive sentence in this case. He noted this offending pre-dated the man’s convictions for raping the other woman.

O’Loughlin told the court the man had a difficult childhood, which was mostly spent in foster care. “He didn’t have any childhood at all,” he said. He said the man accepted the verdict of the jury and has received counselling since being convicted.

He hopes to get treatment for sexual offending while in custody, the court heard.

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Isabel Hayes

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