Former Ros Na Rún actor jailed for six years for ‘predatory’ rape

Judge concerned that Garrett Phillips claims incident with sleeping woman consensual

Garrett Phillips (46) was given a 6 year prison term after previously being convicted of one charge of orally raping a 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5th, 2015. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Garrett Phillips (46) was given a 6 year prison term after previously being convicted of one charge of orally raping a 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5th, 2015. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A former Ros na Rún actor has been sentenced to six years in prison for what a judge said was the “predatory” rape of a young woman.

Garrett Phillips (46), of St Mary’s Terrace, Taylor’s Hill, Galway, was convicted after a four-day trial of one charge of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city early on November 5th, 2015 after he offered her a lift home. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Passing sentence at the Central Criminal Court on Monday, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said there was a “predatory element” to what she described as the “callous rape” of the young woman.

“She was vulnerable, alone in a park late at night and visibly upset. He made her feel safe by offering his jacket, kind words and a lift home, but he never brought her home,” said the judge.

Ms Justice Creedon said it was “an area of concern” that Phillips still did not accept full responsibility for the offence and believed it had been consensual.

She ordered that he be assessed for a therapeutic programme to obtain a greater degree of understanding and insight into his offending and its impact on the victim.

Park bench

During the trial, Det Garda Evelyn Barrett 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 had not andthen fell asleep.

When she woke up Phillips was 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.

The judge noted the woman’s victim impact statement in which she said she had been confident, happy and achieving well in her studies before the attack.

“My life was a train on a track in the right direction,” the woman said. Some 2½ years later, she said she was a “changed person” and has failed to progress in university despite her best efforts.

She is attending counselling and is taking anti-depressants and no longer participates in sport, despite the central role it used to play in her life. She said she has questioned her will to live and struggles with the feeling that the rape was her fault.

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

Inches away

The woman said the court process, during which she had to sit inches away from her attacker, was one of the hardest things she had 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.

Ms Justice Creedon said the headline sentence for the offence was eight years, but that she took account of the fact Phillips had no previous convictions in setting the six-year sentence. She also cited letters from Phillips’ siblings describing him as a devoted husband and father.

Ms Justice Creedon noted that Phillips had lost his marriage and was out of work, and also that he had offered an apology to his family through his lawyer and also to the victim for the “emotional impact” on her. A probation report placed him as at low risk of re-offending.

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 the time of his trial.