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Former Ros na Rún actor convicted of orally raping young woman after offering her a lift home

Garrett Philips did not inform his wife about the matter until the evening before his trial last month.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon adjourned the sentencing hearing until July
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon adjourned the sentencing hearing until July
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A FORMER ROS Na Rún actor is to be sentenced for orally raping a young woman who fell asleep in his van as he gave her a lift home.

Garrett Phillips (46) of St Mary’s Terrace, Taylor’s Hill, Galway, was convicted after a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court of one charge 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 has no previous convictions.

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.

Reading from her victim impact statement, the woman said she had been very social and doing well in her studies before the attack.

“I was high achieving. My life was a train on a track in the right direction”, she stated.

The woman described how she is now a changed person, that she has questioned her will to live and started to “feel emotions that were foreign to me”.

She says in the time since the assault, she still feels like the same 20-year-old girl banging on a door for help.

Court process

She said the court process, during which she had to sit inches away from her attacker, was one of the hardest things she has ever had to do. She said she was forced to speak about something painful and made to feel like a liar when giving her evidence over two days.

Detective Garda Evelyn Barratt told Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that Phillips approached the woman as she sat alone and upset on a park bench and offered her a lift home.

The woman took 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, fell asleep and when she woke up, Phillips was no longer in the driver’s seat but standing over her with his penis in her mouth.

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.

Apology

Today, defence counsel Barry White SC submitted that Phillips wished to “unreservedly apologise for his behaviour”.

White said his client had not informed his wife about the matter until the evening before his trial last month.

Detective Garda Barratt agreed that Phillips took up acting after working in the family business and had been appearing on stage in London in the run-up to the trial.

White handed in testimonials on his client’s behalf and submitted to Ms Justice Eileen Creedon that he wished to make his plea in mitigation on the next date.

He asked the judge to keep reporting restrictions on his client’s identity until the sentence was finalised. He said that this was because there was “not just one victim in the case, there are four”, referring to Phillips’ wife and two children.

Burns submitted that there were no exceptional circumstances in the case, that other convicted people have families and the law gave the court no power to extend the reporting restrictions.

Ms Justice Creedon lifted the restrictions and adjourned the sentence to July when the matter will be finalised. She ordered a Probation Service report and remanded Phillips on continuing bail until that date.

Relationships have suffered

The woman in her victim impact statement described how she had been “ultimately happy” with “no major struggles” until the attack. “I wasn’t afraid of anything, I was indestructible”, she said.

She revealed that she still takes medication for depression and anxiety and does not feel safe walking alone or sometimes in her own home.

She said because of the court process taking so long and being “attacking to victims” she was made to feel that the incident was her fault. She said she lost a lot of friends and her family relationships have also suffered.

“It’s not my fault, this wasn’t supposed to happen to me, but it did and here I am”.

White submitted to Ms Justice Creedon that there had been “great difficulty” in getting Phillips to realise the gravity of matters and there was a lack of realisation on his part.

He asked the judge to treat the case “as some sort of halfway house between somebody who had pleaded and somebody who had fought the matter”.

Burns submitted that there were no halfway houses as this was a fully contested trial.

He told the judge he took issue with one testimonial handed in by the defence, in which there was reference to Phillips “persisting with the belief that matters were consensual”.

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About the author:

Aoife Nic Ardghail

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