Man wrongly accused of rape sues over time spent in prison

DPP ended prosecution after learning alleged victim admitted fabricating similar claim previously

A man who claims he spent more than a year in prison after being wrongly accused of raping a woman has sued various entities of the State. Photograph: David Sleator

A man who claims he spent more than a year in prison after being wrongly accused of raping a woman has sued various entities of the State. Photograph: David Sleator

 

A man who claims he spent more than a year in prison after being wrongly accused of raping a woman who had previously fabricated a similar claim against another man, has sued various entities of the State.

The woman accused the man at the centre of the action of raping her following a party they, and others, had attended in February 2009. A large quantity of alcohol was consumed at the party, it is claimed.

The man, an EU national who currently lives in his native country, at all times vehemently denied the rape allegation. Arising out of her complaint the man was interviewed by gardaí and was released without charge. He was not interviewed again.

He also claims that the garda who took the only statement given by the complainant formed the opinion that she was under the influence of alcohol at the time she made the statement alleging rape.

The man returned to his home country some time afterwards and a year later returned to Ireland to meet his then employer. He was arrested and detained by gardaí and charged with rape. He was remanded in custody after being refused bail by the District Court on grounds that he represented a flight risk. He was granted High Court bail on condition that he reside in Ireland, sign on daily with gardaí and provide a €10,000 cash surety.

However, he was unable to meet those terms and remained in custody until June 2011. A few weeks before he was due to go on trial he and his solicitor were provided with a file regarding the previous fabricated rape claim made by the woman.

Frustration

Eighteen months prior to making the complaint against the man, the woman had claimed she was raped by an unrelated individual. She later withdrew this allegation and admitted that it was fabricated arising out of her frustration due to her history of sexual abuse, family problems and alcohol issues.

Consideration was given to prosecuting the woman for wasting Garda time, but she was not charged due to her personal circumstances.

Shortly after the man received the information about the complainant the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) entered ‘a nolle prosequi’ in his case, ending the prosecution and leading to his release from prison.

However, the man claims he suffered great harm due to the time spent in prison. His relationship broke down, resulting in a lack of access to his daughter, and he lost his job, he claims.

The man, represented by solicitor Adrian Shanley, has sued the Garda Commissioner, the DPP, Ireland, the Attorney General, and the Governors of Cloverhill and Midlands prisons.

In his action he seeks damages for alleged malicious prosecution, breach of his constitutional rights, false imprisonment, negligence, and conscious abuse of statutory powers. The claims are denied.

The defendants say that what they had done in this instance was carry out public functions as part of their public duties. They also claim that the man has no permissible cause of action against them.

The case, which was initiated in 2012 and has a long procedural history, came before Ms Justice Niamh Hyland, who was asked by to rule on a preliminary issue in the action.

Replies sought

The man had sought formal replies to several written questions, known as interrogatories, from the Garda Commissioner and the DPP. The man argued the replies sought in this case are necessary, to obtain admissions of facts, and relevant to his client’s case. They would also be beneficial to the administration of justice, it was submitted.

The application was opposed by the State on grounds including that the replies sought would prejudice a proper adjudication of the claim and that they were an attempt to avoid oral evidence and cross examination at the hearing.

The State also argued that there was a failure by the plaintiff to explain why the formal replies were necessary and a failure to identify any evidential deficit. In her judgement, Ms Justice Hyland said she was adjourning the plaintiff’s motion. It could be re-entered before the court if the plaintiff wishes to proceed with this motion.

Should the plaintiff wish to do that, the judge added that the man’s lawyers must submit a sworn statement identifying the persons to whom each interrogatory is directed.