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Man sexually assaulted woman who was unable to consent

Padraig Conlon 22 Dec 2021

By Declan Brennan

A man has been jailed for sexual assault of a teenager he met in a nightclub after he accepted he was reckless as to whether she had consented to sexual activity.

The then 18-year-old woman told gardaí in February 2018 that she doesn’t remember anything between being in the nightclub and later finding herself in a car with a man, her top down and her underwear missing.

Gheorghe Morar (36) of The Oaks, Ashtown, Dublin told gardaí that he and the woman were “playing” with each other’s genitals and he thought she was enjoying it.

He said that he thought the woman was aware of what was happening but accepted that it was “a possibility” that she wasn’t, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Giving evidence Detective Garda Gillian Ryan said that Morar told gardaí that he believed the woman wanted to have full sex with him.

“She seemed to want that but I wasn’t too sure if she knew what she was doing. It looked like she had maybe taken drugs or too much alcohol,” he told gardaí.

He said as a result he didn’t have full penetrative sex with the woman, saying “I didn’t want to abuse her, I felt I shouldn’t take advantage of her, it wouldn’t be my style,” Dt Ryan told prosecution counsel Pieter Le Vert BL.

Morar told gardaí that he didn’t think he was more sober than the woman and that he was aware of what he was doing. Asked if he thought that “she wasn’t aware” he replied “it’s a possibility” but said he thought she was.

The court heard that Morar met the woman in a club and they were kissing there before they left together. Morar drove them both to Dollymount strand in the early hours of February 7, 2018.

The complainant later told gardaí said she became upset when she found herself in a car in an undressed state. She said she started crying and Morar drove her back to her hotel.

Morar told gardaí that he and the woman were touching each other’s genitals and kissing and at around 7am, he drove her back to her hotel in the city centre. She went to her room and later came down and asked staff at the hotel to call gardaí.

Morar was charged with sexual assault and initially denied the offence. A trial was set for last September when his lawyers told the court he was pleading guilty to the charge on the basis of recklessness.

He has one previous conviction for a minor public order matter in Spain.

Aidan Doyle SC, defending, told the court that there was no evidence the woman had her drink spiked or was drugged. He said Morar was living in Ireland for around five years and has a good work record as a painter and decorator.

Asked what the State’s case is in terms of what activity constituted the sexual assault, Mr Le Vert told Judge Martin Nolan that it was the sexual acts admitted by Morar to have taken place in the car on the beach.

Mr Doyle told the court that “up to a point” what happened between his client and the complainant was consensual but that “unfortunately he continued at a time when he ought not to have”.

“He accepts that now,” counsel said, pointing out that his client had not hidden away but had contacted the woman the next day, and gone to her hotel and to a garda station to retrieve his driver’s licence which he had given the woman.

Sentencing him on Monday afternoon, Judge Nolan said that both persons had taken a “considerable amount of drink” and were “getting on well” in the nightclub before he drove them both to the beach.

“At that point the complainant was so drunk she couldn’t give free or full consent,” he said.

He said that at the time Morar “didn’t believe he was committing a crime” but “on reflection he considered his position” and pleaded guilty.

He said the offending was not minor and set a headline sentence of around five years. He noted the mitigation factors of Morar’s “sincere remorse”, the absence of any relevant previous offending, and the unlikelihood that he will re-offend.

He reduced the headline sentence to two years which he ordered backdated to May 15, 2020 when Moran went into custody after his extradition from Romania.

 

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The court heard the woman and her friend had travelled to Dublin city on an overnight shopping trip. They went to a nightclub and they met Morar, who was drinking in the club.

Morar and the woman were kissing in the club and when the woman’s friend asked her to leave with her, the complainant indicated she wanted to stay with the defendant. When the friend returned from the club’s cloakroom, the complainant and Morar were gone, the court heard.

They took a taxi to where Morar had earlier parked his car. The taxi driver later told gardaí that he saw them kissing and heard her “say stop twice” and he thought she “was very drunk” and was concerned “she might get sick”.

Morar tried to pay the driver with a bank card but was unable to so, so he gave the driver his contact details and said he would pay him the next day.

The court heard that Morar had given the woman his phone number and later on he gave her his driving licence when she couldn’t remember his name. The next day he texted her and asked if he could get his licence back and when she didn’t reply he said he would go to gardaí if she didn’t return it.

He also sent a text where he apologised for his behaviour the night before.

Under questioning from gardaí, Morar said that he never saw the woman crying and never saw her in a state he would describe as unwell. But he agreed she was drunk, saying “she was wobbly, she wasn’t able to stand properly”.

He told gardaí he was also very drunk and said he didn’t think he was any more sober than the woman, but conceded that it was possible she wasn’t aware of what he was doing.

The court heard Morar returned to Romania and was brought back here on foot of a European Arrest Warrant in May 2020 and has remained in custody since then.

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