A father-of-three who raped a woman in the back of his car while on a date at a beach has lost an appeal against his conviction.
The 38-year-old, who cannot be named to protect his victim’s identity, was jailed for six and a half years for raping the woman in the back of his car.
He appealed his conviction on the grounds that the trial judge Ms Justice Tara Burns erred by allowing a friend of the complainant and a garda to give evidence of what the complainant told them on the night after she had been raped. The defence argued that this amounted to hearsay and was therefore inadmissible.
Michael Bowman SC for the appellant said that the account given to the friend contradicted that given to the garda in that she did not tell her friend that the man had performed oral sex on her before the rape took place. Counsel for the appellant argued that the jury verdict was "perverse" given the evidence.
In a judgment delivered by Mr Justice John Edwards, sitting with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, the Court of Appeal dismissed all grounds made out by the appellant. Mr Justice Edwards said the two accounts given by the complainant were not "inconsistent" but "simply differed in the level of detail they contained."
He added: "Yes, there was more detail in the later complaint concerning what occurred in the lead up to the act of rape, but the absence of such detail in the earlier complaint did not, in our assessment, render it a “crucially different” account in terms of how [the victim] came to be raped."
Mr Justice Edwards also found that the transcript of the trial "does not support the suggestion that the verdict was perverse". There was, he said, "clear evidence on foot of which the jury might have acted to find the appellant guilty". He therefore dismissed the appeal.
Evidence in trial
The trial in May 2019 heard that the appellant and complainant had met online and had begun a sexual relationship. However, his victim did not know that he had a partner and three children until he went on trial at the Central Criminal Court last year. The man has since split from his partner.
He pleaded not guilty to raping and sexually assaulting the woman on October 29, 2015. A jury found him guilty of the rape charge, but disagreed on the count of sexual assault.
Ms Justice Tara Burns sentenced him to eight years’ imprisonment but suspended the final 18 months of the sentence.
She remarked that every woman was entitled to say ‘no’ at any stage of a sexual encounter, and to withdraw consent at any stage. She said that, even if one took the view that the sexual acts proceeding the rape were consensual, this did not assist the accused at all.
In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court, the victim said she felt like the rape was her fault and she felt worthless and dropped out of college.
The woman said that after the rape she no longer wanted anything inside her, including food. When she ate she would make herself sick and she “ran off” every calorie she consumed.
“He was walking around as if nothing had happened and I was suffering,” she told the court. She said that she sold her car as she could not bear to drive it and “just knowing he was in it made me sick".
“I will never be free from what he has done to me,” she said.
Detective Garda Karen Griffin told Róisín Lacey SC, prosecuting, that the victim met the man on an online dating website in the summer of 2015. They met a few times and had consensual sex on a few occasions.
On the day before the rape, the two met and went to the beach in the man's car. While in the car they began to kiss and he made an attempt to open her bra but stopped when she said no repeatedly.
That evening there was a series of text messages exchanged between the two referring to the fact that she had said “no” to him. She said they would have fun again if they met up but he replied “not if you say no again".
On the date of the offence, the two again went to the beach in the man's car. They began to kiss in the back of the car and the man again put his hands up her top, but did not stop when she told him no.
He removed the woman's jeans and underwear and raped her. Afterwards the man drove her back to her own car and on the way she texted her friend the word “emergency”. The woman went to her friend's house and told her what had happened. Her friend told her not to shower and brought her to a garda station to report the crime.
The man has two previous convictions, including a conviction for speeding and a conviction for deception, for which he received a three-year sentence that was suspended in full.
He is a Pakistani national and has been in the country for over a decade.