The first conviction in the Republic of a man for raping his wife was recorded at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday. He will be sentenced on October 25th.
The jury of eight men and four women returned the guilty verdict after deliberating for about four hours following a four-day trial.
The 46-year-old Sligo builder had pleaded not guilty to raping and attempting to rape his 36-year-old wife on July 21st, 1997, at their house in Sligo.
Mr Justice Carney told the jury after its verdict was heard that the case had taken so long to reach trial because the man had earlier pleaded guilty and then changed the plea to not guilty at his sentence hearing on July 14th, 2000.
He also said the man had gone through different firms of solicitors and "might till be in a state of denial over what he had done". The wife had told the jury that when she informed him of her intention to report him to gardaí he had laughed at her and said: "Gardaí can't touch me, I am your husband."
Investigating gardaí said he told them: "I have no regrets about having sex with my wife against her will. The only regret I have is that gardaí know about it." During the trial he denied making the remarks, and said gardaí had taken his words out of context. He also claimed he had been drunk at the time of arrest, having had 12 pints in the preceding three hours.
He said it should have been obvious to gardaí what state he was in, and said it was also one of the reasons he signed the statement without reading it.
He also claimed that the sexual relationship between him and his wife had never been good. "Once or twice, max" he said was the number of times they had had sex in a year.
"How could this make me the 'sex-mad alcoholic' she has accused me of being?", he said, addressing the jury.
His wife did not want to have sex when she was pregnant, and she had been pregnant almost every year of their eight-year marriage.
"Always, always" he had had to "beg, plead and coax" her everytime he wanted to have sex. This, he said, was what happened on the night on which she alleged he raped her. He said she denied his requests at first, but like every other time, he managed to persuade and coax her.
She said she had given birth just weeks before the alleged incident and had not wanted to have sex. She was still bleeding and told him so.
He failed the first time he tried to rape her because he was drunk and fell asleep on top of her. He woke up later in the morning and held her forcefully by one arm while he raped her.
All the time, she said, their baby was sleeping in a carry-cot at the foot of the bed and their other children in a room nearby.
"What else could I do but lie there? The children were asleep, I could not scream," she told the jury. She said she begged and pleaded with him to stop, but he did not pay any heed.
She denied she made a false allegation of rape against her husband because she had wanted a legal separation from him.
She also denied the allegation was in any way related to some €40,000 he had received as compensation for a work-related accident. She agreed that she had access to the money but did not agree that she had spent it all without his knowledge.
She agreed that all the money was now gone, but said most of it went towards repayment of debts and arrears and she withdrew large sums of cash for him at his request.
Mr Justice Carney thanked the jury for their deliberations and excused them from further duty for the next five years. He ordered a victim impact report for the sentence hearing on October 25th and remanded the convicted man on bail until then.