A woman who was raped by an acquaintance as she slept has told a court that the man’s solicitor started following her on social media on the day after his client was arrested.
In her victim impact statement, which she read out in the Central Criminal Court on Friday, the woman said: “For a defence solicitor to follow the victim of a crime is unprofessional and unethical.”
The Co Meath man (40), who cannot be named to protect his victim’s anonymity, was found guilty by a jury of raping the woman after a night out in Co Meath on February 11th, 2007, following a trial last October. It was the second trial to take place after a jury was unable to agree on a verdict in the first.
The woman, then aged 22, was asleep in her friend’s house after a night out with the man and woke up to find him raping her. She told the court she spent years trying to suppress what had happened before she received counselling and went to gardaí in 2017.
She told the court she struggled with anxiety and depression for years following the rape.
“It reached a point in 2017 when I wanted to drive my car into a ditch,” she said.
When she eventually disclosed what had happened to her in counselling, she said it was a weight off her shoulders. She said the trial process was difficult and exacerbated her anxiety and depression.
“In the first trial, it was put to me by defence counsel that at the age of 22, I was a ‘woman of the world’,” the woman said. “I was not.
“I thought I would be safe in my friend’s house, sleeping on a sofa bed I always slept on...I was naive.”
The court heard the man denied the allegations to gardaí and suggested the woman was looking for money from him, as he had recently come into an inheritance. The woman said she wanted only three things from the man: an acknowledgement of his actions, an explanation as to why he did it and a sincere apology.
She said the man “didn’t have the common decency to admit the dishonour of (his) actions”.
“I’m going to move forward with my life as a much happier person,” she said.
Open to the public
When asked by Ms Justice Karen O’Connor if he wished to comment on the solicitor issue, defence barrister Eanna Mulloy SC said that he did not wish to cross-examine the complainant on the issue and that some elements of social media are open to the public.
Outlining the case to the court, a local garda sergeant said that on the night in question, the woman was socialising with her friend, and they were joined by the man, then aged 24, whom they knew from the area. The man kissed her on the dance floor of the nightclub, but the woman made it clear to him that she did not want to, the court heard.
The trio went back to the woman’s friend’s house and had some food before the man went upstairs. The woman followed shortly afterwards and found the man asleep in the sofa bed she normally slept in.
She got into bed fully clothed and fell asleep. She awoke sometime later to find the man raping her. She was naked from the waist down. She told him no and pushed him off her before going into her friend’s bedroom. The man left the house shortly afterwards.
When arrested in 2017, the man said the woman was telling “pure lies”.
Defence counsel told the court there were a number of testimonials from supporters of the man, a number of whom came to court. Ms Justice O’Connor cleared the court of all but one family member before the hearing took place.
She thanked the woman in the case for her dignified manner throughout the court process, telling her: “You absolutely should have been safe in your friend’s house.”
The judge adjourned the matter for a further sentence hearing on February 17th, when a plea of mitigation will be heard.