Woman who was raped 20 times as a child relieved after accused loses appeal

The court heard the victim was raped by her sister’s partner when she was a schoolgirl

Speaking outside court, Caroline Kavanagh said she was “happy he [John Giltrap]has lost the appeal”.

Speaking outside court, Caroline Kavanagh said she was “happy he [John Giltrap]has lost the appeal”.


A woman who was raped 20 times by her sister’s partner when she was a schoolgirl has told of her relief after her tormentor’s appeal against his conviction was dismissed.

John Giltrap (61), of Termonbarry, Hospital Hill, Bunclody, Co Wexford, had pleaded not guilty to 22 counts of raping Caroline Kavanagh at various locations in Bunclody between December 1978 and March 1982.

In December 2020, however, a jury at the Central Criminal Court in Kilkenny found him guilty on 20 of the charges and he was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment on each count by Mr Justice Michael McGrath.

The judge ordered the terms to run concurrently.

Ms Kavanagh was aged between 10 and 15 when the offences took place.

Giltrap later appealed the conviction on the grounds that the verdict of the jury following the eight-day trial was “perverse” and was “contrary to the weight of evidence”.

The Court of Appeal, however, dismissed the appeal on Thursday as Ms Kavanagh sat in the public gallery with friends and supporters.

Delivering the judgement, Mr Justice John Edwards, sitting with Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said the court “had no hesitation in rejecting the appeal”.

Mr Justice Edwards added that there “was no evidence to suggest any speculation on behalf of the jury” when the appellant was originally convicted of the rape charges.

Speaking outside court, Ms Kavanagh said she was “happy he [GILTRAP]has lost the appeal”.

“We will have to see what happens now,” she added, referring to plans by Giltrap’s lawyers to appeal the length of sentence.

During an appeal hearing last December, Giltrap loudly sobbed as his barrister, Damien Colgan SC, explained to the three-judge court that the appellant had been in relationship with the complainant’s sister at the time of the offences.

The couple had moved into a caravan situated at the rear of the complainant’s family home in Ryland’s Lawn, Bunclody.

The caravan was later relocated to a nearby public area known as “the Green”, in Craigbawn.

In submissions from Giltrap’s lawyers, it was stated that in her testimony Ms Kavanagh said the rapes happened “nearly everyday and sometimes twice day” in either the house or caravan.

Giltrap claimed that this wasn’t possible because at the time of the offending he was “either at work or coming home from work”, and that his mother-in-law’s evidence supported his story.

Questioning why Ms Kavanagh never once complained about Giltrap to either her mother, her friends, or medical professionals during the period she said the rapes had taken place, Mr Colgan told the three-judge court that Ms Kavanagh’s evidence had lacked corroboration.

“The house was small, the caravan was small,” he said.

Mr Colgan also highlighted the fact that Ms Kavanagh had failed to mention the attacks continued in the caravan after it was relocated to ‘the Green’ until her third interview with gardai investigating her complaints.

Noting that his client had been acquitted of two counts of rape on the indictment, Mr Colgan said the jury had “speculated” when it convicted him on the other counts.

Fiona Murphy SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the jury had carefully considered the evidence before them before returning the guilty verdict.

In her submissions to the court, Ms Murphy stated that Ms Kavanagh “gave very clear, cogent and compelling evidence” that Giltrap had raped her “on a very regular basis” when she was still a child.

Ms Murphy stated the jury had been in the best position to “adjudicate on this issue having had the benefit of seeing, hearing and observing the demeanour” of Ms Kavanagh during the trial.

Counsel added the complainant had been embarrassed by the situation where her sister was living in a caravan located in a public space and that was why she failed to mention at first the rapes which had taken place on the Green to gardai.

“It was immaterial whether the verdict pertained to Ryland’s Lawn or the Green in Craigbawn,” Ms Murphy noted.

Ms Murphy also told the court the complainant wanted to waive her right not to be named during proceedings.

Responding, Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham said that was a matter for Ms Kavanagh.