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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Shutterstock/mark gusev

Westmeath man jailed for 10 years for raping teenage girl after they had been drinking together

The man was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury earlier this year of a single count of rape in Co Westmeath in 2019.

A WESTMEATH MAN who “opportunistically” took advantage of being left alone with a teenage girl after they had been drinking and raped her has been given a ten year sentence.

The now 33-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect the girl’s identity, was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury earlier this year of the single count of rape at the address in a town in Co Westmeath on 20 January 2019.

The man, who does not accept the verdict of the jury, was aged 29 at the time of the rape, while the girl was 15-and-a-half years old. She did not make a victim impact statement.

Mr Justice Paul Burns said the man had opportunistically taken advantage of being left alone with the girl and was aware of her approximate age as she was known to him.

He noted the verbal abuse he had used towards the girl during the attack may have been a way of dehumanising her. He also took into account that she suffered some physical injuries.

He noted in mitigation a forensic psychological report handed into court outlining a history of anxiety and depression, as well as a history of drug and alcohol misuse. He said the man had a low range of intellectual functioning.

Mr Justice Burns imposed a ten year sentence and suspended the final year for a period of three years, during which the man will be under probation supervision.

A local garda told Eileen O’Leary SC, prosecuting, that the pair were known to each other and following some time socialising separately, the young woman and her friend were invited for a drink with the accused man. They climbed in through the window of an unoccupied apartment.

There were initially four people there but later the accused and the complainant were left alone.

The man tried to kiss her but she said no. He continued to touch her but she pushed him away, the court heard.

He then pulled down her leggings and pushed her over a couch before raping her. She was shouting at him to stop while he used abusive language towards her. Afterwards he went to the toilet and when her friend returned, the girl left with her.

The girl told her friend something had happened but did not immediately report the rape.

A few days later she went to the hospital to be treated for injuries after an altercation and the hospital reported the matter to gardaí after she disclosed the earlier events.

The man confirmed he had been in the apartment but denied sexual contact with the girl.

The girl was advised she could make a victim impact statement but chose not to. The gardaí said this was for her own reasons and there was no question of intimidation.

The man has prior convictions for assault, violent disorder, public order and road traffic offences. He has no prior convictions of a sexual nature.

O’Leary said the Director of Public Prosecutions’ view was this was in the “more serious category” of sentences, indicating a headline sentence of 10 to 15 years. She said this was on the basis of the disparity in age and the injury to the victim. 

John Paul Shortt SC, defending, said he disagreed with the director’s view, submitting that the age disparity and injury were not of such significance to lift the case into the higher category.

He said this was not a premeditated rape but impulsive, and occurred against a background of alcohol and drugs being consumed in a situation where they had been left alone together.

He submitted the case fell into the mid-range of a six to eight year headline sentence.

In mitigation, Shortt outlined to the court his client’s mental health issues, cognitive deficits and his history of substance abuse. He is engaging with programs within the prison and doing well in custody. He is willing to engage in rehabilitation.

He outlined letters from his client’s mother and sister who described how he tends to be a follower rather than a leader in his group and gets himself led into criminal situations.

Shortt asked that the contents of a psychiatric report be taken into account and told the court the conviction is not accepted by his client.