Two men who raped woman at party lose appeals against convictions

Both men had been sentenced to seven years for 2017 rape in west of Ireland town

Two men in their 20s who were found guilty of raping a young woman after she had “blacked out” at a party have had their appeals against convictions dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

The first defendant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty to raping the woman at an address in a town in the west of Ireland on a date in 2017.

His co-defendant, who also cannot be identified, had pleaded not guilty to the oral rape of the same woman at the same time and place.

The men were later found guilty by a jury following a trial at the Central Criminal Court in November 2019 and jailed for seven years each by Ms Justice Eileen Creedon.

Both men later appealed their convictions.

In a written judgement issued on Friday by Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham, both appeals were rejected.

Referring to first appellant’s complaint that the trial judge failed to highlight to the jury the differences in the cases against both men, Mr Justice Birmingham said that because “the question of separate trials” was never raised during the trial, the appellate court did not regard this argument as relevant.

He said the complaint from the first appellant about the failure to issue a corroboration warning was similarly rejected because, in the court’s view, the trial judge had not been “obliged” to give such a warning.

Turning to the grounds of appeal lodged by the second appellant, the judge said it related to the decision by investigating gardaí not to seize clothing worn by the man on the night in question.

Rejecting the complaint as “contrived”, Mr Justice Birmingham added: “There was no dispute at trial about the fact that the complainant and [the second appellant] were in close physical proximity; the only issue was whether the sexual activity that occurred was consensual or non-consensual.

“We do not believe that the fact that gardaí did not seize the [second appellant’s] clothing… has meant that he has been denied an obviously useful line of defence.”

“In those circumstances, we are obliged to dismiss both appeals and to affirm the convictions,” the judge concluded.