Lawyers for man who denies rape say gardaí did not offer him an interpreter

Garda witness says accused never gave any indication he did not understand English

Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES


Lawyers for a man who denies raping a student in Donegal after a night of drinking have said that gardaí never offered him an interpreter.

The defendant (33), a non-national who resides in Donegal, was arrested the day after the alleged offence took place in his apartment.

He and a co-accused (29), who is also a non-national living in Donegal, have both pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape of the woman in a town in the county in February 2015. The complainant is now aged in her 20s.

Colman Fitzgerald SC, defending the older man, put it to gardaí­ that at no stage was his client told that there was a possibility for an interpreter. The man is a native of a non-English speaking country.

A garda witness who was acting as the member in charge when the man was being held in custody for questioning said at no stage did he believe the defendant needed an interpreter.

“At any stage if I had any concerns he wasn’t understanding anything or needed an interpreter, I would have offered him one,” he said. He said the man never gave any indication he didn’t understand English and neither he or his solicitor, who was present for the interviews, asked for an interpreter.

The jury has heard that gardaí interviewed the defendant a number of times. At the end of the third interview they asked the accused if he knew that rape included having sex with someone who is too drunk to be able to say yes or no or to give consent. The defendant replied “I don’t know, unless you tell me now”.

Counsel put it to a garda witness, who had interviewed his client, that “towards the end of the interview there appears to be a concern if [the defendant] understands what rape means in Irish law”.

The garda witness told counsel that “it was not a question of language” and said he would ask the same question of someone who spoke English as their first language.

“He was well able to converse in English” the garda witness said. He said in an interview lasting over two hours neither the defendant nor his solicitor raised a concern about him understanding what was being said.

The trial will resume in evidence before a jury and Judge Alex Owens on Wednesday.