Business analyst convicted of raping woman he met on dating app

By Aoife Nic Ardghail and Fiona Ferguson

A Meath business analyst has been convicted of raping a woman he met on the online dating app Badoo.

Martin Sherlock (30) of Athlumney Wood, Navan, Co Meath had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to raping the woman at her Dublin home on August 14, 2015.

The jury of eight men and four women returned its verdict on day-four of the trial following over five hours of deliberations.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy thanked the jurors for their service and remanded Sherlock on continuing bail to June 18 next.

The woman said the man raped her after turning up at her house and stole her phone on his way out.

During the trial, the now 27-year-old woman told the jury that she had contacted another man on Badoo and had sex with him because Sherlock had failed to confirm their scheduled meet up that night.

She told Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, that Sherlock then messaged her after the other man had left. She said she agreed to meet Sherlock when he said it was just for a chat. She said when he arrived she told him that they couldn't have sex because he had no condom.

She told the jury that she and Sherlock started kissing and touching in the bedroom, but then she started to feel strange when the activity escalated to oral sex on her bed.

They interchanged between oral and penetrative sex, until she became sore and uncomfortable and began repeating “no” and “stop”.

The woman said Sherlock didn't listen, even after she told him that he should go, and he carried on until he ejaculated. She said she hadn't wanted to perform oral sex with him while on her bed, but she let it happen.

She told Mr Devally that the man refused her request to come to a GP for the morning-after pill, saying he had no money.

On his way out Sherlock returned back upstairs to retrieve his phone charger and took her phone as well.

When she discovered it missing, she dialled the number from her house phone. She told the court it rang twice and then was unreachable.

Shortly after the incident the woman went onto the Badoo website but found Sherlock's account had been deleted. She said she then rang her friend who advised her to contact gardaí.

She agreed with Blaise O'Carroll SC, defending, that she did not have a packet of condoms at her house but had arranged to meet his client earlier that night. She said that she made it clear that there would be no sex without a condom.

“I definitely told (Sherlock) if you have no condom, no sex”, she said.

Sherlock told the jury that he and the complainant matched on the app and it was “quickly clear” that they were both on the same wavelength about meeting up for sex.

He told Mr O'Carroll that he received a text from her about bringing a condom while he was driving to her house but he told her he didn't have one when he arrived.

He said she “seemed disappointed” about this but there was “no negative response” from her when they began sexual activity.

He described how she “seemed quite into it and quite happy” and that he had stopped when she asked him not to use his fingers on her.

He told Mr O'Carroll that he did not think he was ever having sex with her without her consent.

Under cross-examination he agreed that he told gardaí “I know she said no, but we'd already started”, but explained that this was the third thing he had stated on arrest.

He said he thought he was being arrested for stealing the woman's phone but when the garda implied it was for having sex with her against her will, he then uttered that statement.

Sherlock said he was referring to the woman saying “no” to finger penetration and performing oral sex on him. He told the jury that he had stopped those acts when she had asked. He denied that the statement implied he had continued on with something after starting.

He further denied when Mr Devally put it to him that he knew not to have sex with the woman without a condom but that he “took a chance”.

The jury heard that gardaí arrested Sherlock after a sting operation was set up to meet with a person selling the woman's stolen phone on DoneDeal.ie.

Garda Rossa Smith told the jury that the DoneDeal.ie seller's contact number matched that of Sherlock from his WhatsApp messages to the woman.

The garda said Sherlock seemed panicked when approached by colleagues purporting to be interested in buying the stolen phone. He said Sherlock told him: “I know she said no but we'd already started” on arrest.

In a statement following the conclusiuon of the case the dating app, Badoo, said that as the world;s largest social discovery network, they endeavour to facilitate meaningful connections and prided themselves on the safety of our users.

"We enforce strict verification processes, continual moderation across the app and take a zero tolerance approach to negative behaviour.

"We urge our users to report anything untoward whilst using the platform, and to treat all face-to-face social interactions with an air of caution, as they would in any other day-to-day circumstances. We have a 24/7 support team in place, and are here to advise whenever we are needed. The safety of our users is our number one priority."

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