Former soldier jailed for 10 years for ‘cynical and cold campaign of rape’

Woman tells attacker in court ‘I am proud of myself... I don’t see myself as a victim anymore’

A former soldier who was convicted of “a cynical and cold campaign of rape” against a woman has been jailed for 10 years and ordered not to contact the woman again.

The woman had previously described to the court the effects of a controlling and violent relationship with Niall Kennedy (31) which culminated in him repeatedly raping her.

Kennedy of Standhouse Lawns, Newbridge, Co Kildare was convicted by a jury last December of 12 counts of rape on 11 different occasions in August 2017.

He was also convicted of harassment on multiple occasions between February and August 2017 and of making threats to kill or cause serious harm to the woman, once in June 2017 and twice in August 2017.

Kennedy continues to deny the charges and does not accept the jury verdicts. He has no previous convictions.

Mr Justice Paul Burns said the case was characterised by a more than usual degree of degradation and abuse of trust of the woman and set a headline sentence of 13 years.

He said Kennedy had carried out “a cynical and cold campaign of rape” against the woman. He noted there had been no guilty plea and that Kennedy had shown no remorse for his actions.

He imposed a sentence of 12 years with the final two years suspended for five years on strict conditions.

At a sentence hearing at the Central Criminal Court on Monday Mr Justice Paul Burns described the cross-examination of the victim during her trial as “unduly protracted”.

The woman has described the trial as an experience she never wants to go through again and described her treatment by Kennedy’s defence lawyers as “appalling”.

Garda David Connolly told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that the woman was in her early 20s when she met Kennedy in December 2016 through the Tinder dating app. They began a relationship soon after and exchanged Christmas gifts, the court heard.

Constantly texting

Gda Connolly said Kennedy then began turning up outside her place of work, or in a nightclub when the woman was out with friends. He would turn up uninvited, was constantly texting her and demanding that she send him photographs, Gda Connolly said.

The woman found the level of communication “unbearable” and wanted to end the relationship. At one point she gave Kennedy €500 and asked to be left alone but he kept contacting her.

Kennedy also sent images of an indecent nature to her mother’s phone.

While they continued in a sexual relationship, the court heard that Kennedy continued to harass the woman, including following her when she was on nights out with friends. On one occasion outside a Dublin nightclub, he showed up and threatened to kill one of her male friends.

In August 2017, Kennedy told the woman to come to his house where he raped her, while calling her “a slut and a whore” and telling her that “she deserved it”.

He told her that the only way “to make things up with him was to be in a threesome” and that she had to have sex with him 24 times, and also six times for every time he said she had sex with another man. He forced her to engage in anal sex while in a car; he masturbated on her chest and into her face.

Reading from her victim impact statement the woman described the day she found the courage to “fight back” as “a day that will live with me forever”.

“I was a broken person. My life wasn’t my own. Niall Kennedy was the person in charge of me.”

She said she became unaware of what was true and what was not. After her ordeal ended, she did not feel comfortable being out on her own and she would have friends walk her to her car.

“My mind would play tricks on me, that he was looking down at me,” she said.

She now fears the phone and, at night now, she is “on high alert”.

“I have lost count the number of times I have changed direction to make sure I am not being followed,” she said.

Counselling

She goes quiet some days recalling what happened but counselling had helped, as well as “the unconditional love of my parents”.

At the end of her statement the woman looked directly at Kennedy and said: “You appear to be indifferent to me. Today, I am proud of myself because I don’t see myself as a victim any more. I survived. I fought back every day to get my life back.”

Three years ago, she met someone new but “it took me over a year to hold hands” for fear that Kennedy would see her, she said. She said that this new relationship “has shown me that not all men can do what Mr Kennedy did to me”.

Desmond Hayes BL, defending, told the court that his client was aged 19 when he joined the Defence Forces but left in 2020 after failing a fitness test. He attributed “his current mental health” to this, his counsel Mr Hayes told the hearing.

A forensic psychologist, called as a defence witness, told the court that the likelihood of Kennedy committing further sex crimes was “above average”.

Mr Justice Burns previously made an order permitting publication of Kennedy’s identity after the complainant told the judge that she was happy that naming Kennedy now would not disclose her own identity.

He said the victim should not be identified, including inadvertently by reporting certain locational and workplace details related to the case.

After his conviction the State objected to Kennedy’s continued remand on bail but he was given bail under strict conditions. The woman told the court that during this period she was “on high alert” and “feared retaliation”.

Kennedy’s remand on bail was on strict conditions including that he no have contact with the victim, “be of sober habits” and maintain a daily curfew indoors overnight. Last month, a sentence hearing was adjourned after Kennedy’s lawyers told the court their client was reported to have Covid-19.

On Monday Mr Justice Burns said the decision to allow him bail had been to facilitate the preparation of a psychological report and said he had felt in the circumstances it was more beneficial to allow the woman to have the matter behind her as soon as possible.