By Fiona Ferguson
A man has been convicted of raping and sexually assaulting a teenage girl.
The 41-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment in a Dublin suburb on August 21, 2017.
The now 19-year-old complainant, who gave evidence via video link, told the trial that she sneaked out of her home that night after she had been grounded by her mother.
She said she was alone in her local town when the accused man approached her.
She gave evidence that the man raped her after she went to his home.
On day nine of the trial following three hours and 29 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned with unanimous verdicts of guilty on the charges of rape and sexual assault. They acquitted the man of the charge of false imprisonment.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott thanked the jury for their service and remanded the man in custody until his sentence date of November 29, 2021.
He ordered the preparation of a victim impact statement and a probation report.
The now 19-year-old, who gave evidence via video link, told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that she was alone in her local town when the accused approached her.
He asked her did she need any money and later offered for her to stay at his home where he said she would be safe.
“He said he didn’t want me to stay out on the street, he wanted to make sure I was OK. He said he would sleep on the couch and I could take his room,” the teenager told the jury.
“It was freezing cold and I just wanted to get warm so I gave in and said ‘yeah’,” the complainant continued before she described walking back to an apartment with the man.
The teenager said the man showed her a bedroom where she lay on top of the covers, fully clothed and fell asleep.
She said the next thing she remembered was feeling heavy breathing.
“I felt something on top of me. I opened my eyes and he was just there on top of me,” the teenager said.
She said the man was touching her breasts and she told him to stop.
She tried to push him off her but he didn’t stop.
“I was trying to stop it but he was stronger, I couldn’t,” the teenager replied.
She said the man raped her.
The teenager told the jury that after she left the apartment, she made her way to a nearby train station where she met a friend who told her that her family were looking for her and persuaded her to go a garda station.
The gardai called her mother who came to pick her up.
Her older brother told the court his sister later told him back at the family home that she had stayed at “in some old man’s house” and that she had been raped.
He said his sister directed him to the house. His younger brother and two friends also came, as well as the complainant and his then girlfriend.
Her brother said he knocked on the door and a man answered.
He asked the man if a girl had been there and when the man replied yes, he said he screamed at the man that was his sister.
The woman’s two brothers gave evidence that they hit the accused man before leaving the house and meeting up with the girls.
The following November, the victim said she spoke to a teacher about it.
She said she couldn’t get the words out so she wrote down that she had been raped. Her parents and gardai were alerted.
When asked by Mr McGrath why she told her teacher at that point, the teenager replied “If I had kept it any longer, I’d be in the grave”.
The man was interviewed by gardaí in February 2018.
He repeatedly denied raping the girl or sexually assaulting her.
The man said that he was walking down the road around 3am when he noticed the girl standing on the street near his apartment.
He said she told him she was waiting for a train and asked if she could stay until the train in the morning.
The man said he offered to get the girl a taxi home but she said no, so he took her home with him. He said he offered the girl the choice of bed or sofa, that she chose the sofa and he went to bed by himself. He said she came into his room later, saying she was cold.
He said he woke up at 9 or 10 the next morning and she was asleep beside him. He told gardaí that the girl only left his home when he threw her out after she had asked if she could stay later.
He claimed that he believed the then 15-year-old girl was aged “in her twenties”.
Dr Charlotte Murphy, a forensic scientist with Forensic Science Ireland, gave evidence during the trial that she analysed a section of mattress fabric taken from the accused man’s bed.
She said that DNA matching the complainant was found in the blood stain.