Sligo man (49) jailed for six years for raping wife

A Sligo man (49) was today sentenced to six years in jail for raping his wife.

A Sligo man (49) was today sentenced to six years in jail for raping his wife.

The man became the first person in the history of the State to be convicted of the offence in 2002, but the Court of Criminal Appeal ordered a retrial, and he was found guilty again by a jury last November.

At the Central Criminal Court, Judge Paul Carney handed down the same six-year sentence the man had received at his original trial but backdated it to take account of the two years and four months he had served in custody.

The court heard that the man had come home after drinking on July 21st, 1997, and had demanded sex with his wife.


The woman, who is now aged 40, offered him a cuddle but refused sex because she was still suffering from bleeding and swollen legs after giving birth to her fifth child.

"Some time later he woke her up and had forced sex with her," said Judge Carney.

The court heard that the woman had told her husband the next morning "You raped me" and said she was going to report it. But he laughed at her and replied: "The gardaí cannot touch me. I am your husband."

Judge Carney said the law had been changed in 1993 to make marital rape a crime, on a par with any other form of rape.

The court heard that the woman, whose identity is protected by the courts, made a complaint to the gardaí about her husband in 1997.

He refused an offer from the State to plead guilty at District Court level, which carries a maximum 12-month sentence, but when he was brought before the Central Criminal Court in 2000, he pleaded guilty.

Then he changed his plea to not guilty on the day of the sentencing hearing.

The woman took the stand today to give evidence of the effect this and the subsequent two trials had had on her. "I just found the last eight-and-a-half years a total nightmare. I can't understand how it took so long for it to come to court," she said.

She told the court how the long delay had made her feel like the guilty party even though she was telling the truth. "It's all the talk of the community and it's really getting to me. It's all being said that I'm a liar and he's been telling the truth."

The court heard that the woman had five children, now aged between eight and 15, from her marriage. She had been pregnant seven times in eight years but suffered one miscarriage and gave birth to a stillborn baby.

The court heard that her husband was sentenced to six months in jail in 1998 for twice breaching a barring order but was let off on condition of good behaviour.

Judge Carney said he remembered what her husband had said to her on the morning after the rape - that he couldn't be touched by the gardaí.

"Those words are still in my head and I can't get rid of them. His attitude to me that morning was that he could do what he wanted and get away with it," said the woman.

"That's what makes me really sad. I've lost eight-and-a-half years fighting for the truth. I'm just tired. I just want it to end now and I just want to get on with rearing my kids as best I can."

The man sat impassively with his arms folded during the sentencing hearing. His defence counsel said his client still denied responsibility for the rape and sought leave to appeal, but this was denied by Judge Carney.