A man accused of blindfolding and raping his sister over a period of three years following her Confirmation was found not guilty by a jury today.
The defendant who is now 63, denied charges dating back approximately 45 years of raping his sister by putting his penis in her vagina five times and 28 counts of indecent assault which included alleged incidents of putting his penis in her mouth and in her anus.
The jury of eight men and four women took only one hour and seven minutes to deliver unanimous not guilty verdicts on all charges at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork.
The complainant, who is now aged 57, appeared to be deeply distressed and was comforted by family members.
The defendant wept with emotion as members of his family rushed to the dock to embrace him as soon as Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty thanked the jury and left the bench.
The judge also excused the jurors from jury service for ten years, acknowledging that by any standards the evidence they had listened to in a week of testimonies was very disturbing and harrowing.
The judge said it was difficult enough for lawyers and those associated with the case to listen to the evidence but all the more so for twelve people selected as jurors.
Before rising, the judge told the accused that he was free to go.
The disputed incidents dated back to between July 1975 and October 1978.
The complainant said she was caught stealing sweets and had to inform her parents but confided in her older brother instead and that he told her he would look after her and that was what big brothers were for. But she said he began to call her up to his room telling her that he needed to build up his muscles for sport because otherwise he would not win matches.
She described various activities that allegedly occurred in the following years, including being blindfolded while he put his penis in her mouth as he made “horrible grunting sounds.”
“He was so snaky you wouldn’t have a safe place once you got to the gate… He would blindfold you. I think it was a man’s tie. He would tie it so tight it would hurt your nose… (Afterwards) you would get to the bathroom and wash yourself in Dettol and try to get yourself clean and get rid of the smell. He would say, ‘You are a good liar. Who is going to believe you? You are a tramp’.
“When the blindfold was put around your eyes that was the scariest.”
The accused man denied all of this and said he had just met the love of his life at that time and there was no way he was going out on dates with her and then coming home to do horrific things to his young sister.
He said, “It never happened. It has appalled and shocked me to hear these things. They are horrific things to be saying but I did not do these things. I have said from the moment I was brought in to the guards, I have told the truth, I did not do these things… From day one I said I did not do any of this.
“Never happened… I don’t know where I would have found time because it was a very busy house. I could not see it happening.”
Apart from the complainant and the defendant there was key evidence from their brother. In a statement this man told gardaí that when the accused was first questioned two years ago he met him to discuss it and allegedly said that while he (the accused) did not think there was sexual intercourse, there was touching and feeling and that he was a kid experimenting.
However, this witness asked in the witness box for permission to make a new statement where he said that the accused never said such things and that he – the witness – never told gardaí that the defendant had said them.
Both statements from the witness were put to the jury and the witness spent almost two days in the witness box being examined by prosecution senior counsel Tom Creed and cross-examined by defence senior counsel Siobhán Lankford.