Woman raped by two Leitrim men says attacks ruined her life

Claire McGovern

Reporter:

Claire McGovern

A woman raped by two men after she blacked out drunk at a house party has said the attacks ruined her life and shattered her trust in people.

Last November, a jury at the Central Criminal Court convicted two Leitrim men of rape and oral rape respectively of the woman in a flat in town in the county on a date in 2017.

Their lawyers told Justice Eileen Creedon yesterday (Friday) that the men continue to deny the offending and do not accept the jury's verdicts.

The men, who are aged in their early 20s and knew the complainant from school, cannot be named in order to ensure the anonymity of the victim.

Both had pleaded not guilty to rape in a flat while the second man also denied a charge of oral rape of the woman.

Witnesses told the trial that the first man came out of the bedroom telling other men at the party that he had had sex with the woman and showing scrapes on his back from that. A photograph of his back was then circulated on the “Snapchat” app.

There was also evidence that the second man later said he would go down to the room and “chance a blowjob”.

The jury found the first man guilty of rape and the second man guilty of oral rape. They failed to reach an agreement on the count of rape against the second man.

After the sentence hearing, Justice Creedon said she needed to consider the evidence and adjourned the case to February 17 next.

Eilis Brennan SC, prosecuting, told the court that the victim had been drinking in a local pub earlier in the night and speaking to the first accused. They and others had gone back to his flat for a party.

On the way to the flat, there was a brief kiss between the victim and the first accused.

The victim had quite a bit to drink, having drunk Prosecco before going to the pub and whiskey drinks and 'Stiffy's' shots in the pub. During the party, she drank some wine and took two pulls of a cannabis joint and felt sick.

The woman told the trial that she had no further memory of the night until she awoke in the first man's bed with the man raping her. She said he hit her across the face with an open hand a number of times and was using his other hand to choke her.

She said when he let go eventually, she was gasping for breath. She said her next memory then was the second man in bed with her and the sound of him taking a condom off.

She said he told her, “you're not wet there, you can suck my cock”. She said he pushed her head down and there was medical evidence of bruising to tongue and throat.

Later, she heard male voices coming from outside the bedroom discussing how to get her out of the apartment. The trial heard that she was afraid they would come back and she telephoned her boyfriend to come and pick her up.

She told gardaí she felt betrayed by the men as she thought they were her friends.

Once in his car, she told him that she had being raped. After their arrest, both men told gardaí that there was sexual activity but that it was consensual.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said that going through the trial brought back bad memories of the night. She said she suffered from stress and anxiety since the rapes and that “every day is a struggle”.

“This will haunt me for the rest of my life, knowing that they chose to do this to me,” she said.

Conor Devally SC, defending the first man, said his client had an otherwise blameless life up to this point. He said a lot of drink was taken by all parties on the night and that “judgements were completely awry”.

He handed in a number of character references from family and community members, including a school principal, a boxing club coach and neighbours.

“Those who know him in all capacities appear to share a very high regard for him,” counsel said.

Colm Smyth SC, defending the second man, said his client maintained his innocence and intended to appeal the conviction. He said because of this position, the Probation Service reports noted that he did not show any empathy for the woman or any remorse.

Mr Smyth handed in a number of character references including one from a retired garda. Neither of the men have previous convictions.

After an eleven day trial, the jury of nine men and three women spent six hours in deliberations before returning majority verdicts on two counts. Ms Brennan told the court that the DPP is now entering a nolle prosequi on the rape charge against the second accused.