Reporting by Sarah-Jane Murphy
A woman who was raped and sexually assaulted by two men while en route to a party has criticised the court process for making victims look “untrustworthy” during trials.
The woman, who was aged 19 at the time, said she was very confused that her previous sexual history was brought up during one of the men’s trial.
This man (27) had denied a charge of rape at an address in Waterford on December 20, 2015. He was convicted by a jury following a Central Criminal Court trial last May.
His co-accused, also aged 27, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman on the same occasion.
Mr Justice Paul Butler imposed an eight year sentence on the man convicted of rape and suspended the final two years. He sentenced the other defendant to five years for sexual assault and suspended the final 24 months.
He noted that this man had entered a guilty plea and therefore didn’t put his victim through a trial.
Reading from her victim impact statement, the woman said: “Parts of your life from the past that have nothing to do with the case are used and manipulated to make the victim look like an untrustworthy fool”.
The men, who are cousins and cannot be named to protect their victim’s identity, met up with the woman and her friends at a night club, and offered to share a taxi with her as they travelled to an after party.
Garda Karen Mulloney told the Central Criminal Court that on the way to the party the cousins and the woman stopped off at an apartment, as one man said he was cold and needed to collect a jumper.
The woman was sitting on a bed in the apartment and was given a glass of vodka by one of them, Gda Mulloney said.
One man then started to kiss her, and she pushed him away and said no. He then raped her and the other man sexually assaulted her by touching her breasts, the court heard.
The woman managed to get away and locked herself in a bathroom before fleeing the apartment, Gda Mulloney said.
In her victim impact statement, which she read to the court, the woman said her faith in the human race had changed forever. Faced with a similar situation she would not go through the court process again, she said.
“This is a win for those who commit these crimes,” the woman said.
She said she felt her private history had been invaded and was allowed to be used to blacken her name and distract the jury from the facts of the case.
The woman thanked the gardaí and the DPP and said she hoped the jailing of the two men meant that this will not happen to someone else.
“These men took something that was not theirs to take and I continue to strive to regain my sense of self,” she said.
Defending the man convicted of rape, Roderick O’Hanlon SC, said the crime did not appear to have been pre-meditated or planned. It took place in circumstances where a vast quantity of alcohol had been consumed, he said.
Rosin Lacey SC, on behalf of the other accused, said the man was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age and had been taking medication since. His mother played a very important role in his life and he had let her down, the court heard.
Neither of the accused had any previous offences.
Mr Justice Butler commended the woman for her bravery in providing the court with a very articulate victim impact statement.
“It is clear to me she has been through a traumatic ordeal,” he said.
The judge noted that one of the men had entered a guilty plea and therefore didn’t put his victim through a trial.