Rapist's solicitor followed victim on social media after his client's arrest, court told

ireland
Rapist's Solicitor Followed Victim On Social Media After His Client's Arrest, Court Told Rapist's Solicitor Followed Victim On Social Media After His Client's Arrest, Court Told
The woman, then aged 22, was asleep in her friend's house after a night out with the man when she woke up to find him raping her
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Isabel Hayes

A woman who was raped by an acquaintance as she slept has told a court that her rapist's defence solicitor started following her on social media after his client was arrested.

In her victim impact statement, which she read out in the Central Criminal Court on Friday, the woman said that the day after her rapist was interviewed by gardaí, his defence solicitor, started following her on social media.

“For a defence solicitor to follow the victim of a crime is unprofessional and unethical,” the woman told the rapist's sentence hearing.

Second trial

A Meath man (40), who can't be named to protect his victim's anonymity, was found guilty by a jury of raping the woman after a night out in Meath on February 11th, 2007, following a trial last October. It was the second trial to take place after a jury was unable to agree on a verdict in the first trial.

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The woman, then aged 22, was asleep in her friend's house after a night out with the man when she woke up to find him raping her. She told the court she spent years trying to suppress what had happened to her before she received counselling and went to gardaí in 2017.

She told the court she struggled with anxiety and depression for years in the wake of the rape. “It reached a point in 2017 when I wanted to drive my car into a ditch,” she said. When she eventually disclosed what had happened to her in counselling, she said it was a weight off her shoulders.

She said the trial process was difficult and exacerbated her anxiety and depression.

“In the first trial, it was put to me by defence counsel that at the age of 22, I was a 'woman of the world,” the woman said. “I was not.

“I thought I would be safe in my friend's house, sleeping on a sofa bed I always slept on...I was naive.”

Denials

The court heard the man denied the allegations to gardaí and suggested the woman was looking for money from him, as he had recently come into an inheritance.

The woman said she wanted only three things from the man: an acknowledgement of his actions, an explanation as to why he did it and a sincere apology.

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The man “didn't have the common decency to admit the dishonour of (his) actions”, she said.

“I'm going to move forward with my life as a much happier person,” she said.

When asked by Ms Justice Karen O'Connor if he wished to comment on the solicitor issue, defence barrister Eanna Mulloy SC said that he did not wish to cross-examine the complainant on the issue and that some elements of social media are open to the public.

Outlining the case to the court, a local garda sergeant said that on the night in question, the woman was socialising with her friend, and they were joined by the man, then aged 24, whom they knew locally. The man kissed her on the dance floor of the nightclub, but the woman made it clear to him that she didn't want to, the court heard.

Rape

The trio went back to the woman's friend's house and had some food before the man went upstairs. The woman followed shortly afterwards and found the man asleep in the sofa bed she normally slept in.

She got into bed fully clothed and fell asleep. She awoke sometime later to find the man raping her. She was naked from the waist down.

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She told him no and pushed him off her before going into her friend's bedroom. The man left the house shortly afterwards.

When arrested by gardaí in 2017, the man said the woman was telling “pure lies”, and it was “bullshit”. He said he had recently come into money and suggested the woman was making up a story as a result. “Maybe she thought she would get money,” he told gardaí.

Defence counsel told the court there were a number of testimonials from supporters of the man, a number of whom came to court to support him. Ms Justice O'Connor cleared the court of all but one family member before the hearing took place.

She thanked the woman in the case for her dignified manner throughout the court process, telling her: “You absolutely should have been safe in your friend's house.”

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The judge adjourned the matter for a further sentence hearing on February 17th, when a plea of mitigation will be heard.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help. 

In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112. 

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