A JURY at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork deliberated for over five hours before returning to find the accused man not guilty on charges of rape, among others, against him.
A most unusual feature of the case was that the prosecution took place despite the fact that the woman at the centre of the case died over a year after the alleged rape. Her original statement to gardaí was inadmissible in the case.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt expressed sympathy to the family of the deceased on his and the jury’s behalf.
He said her addiction difficulties had brought the 30-year-old Irish woman to some dark places, but he said it was some consolation to know that she had lived happily in a foreign country for some years in the past before her untimely death in May 2018.
The disputed events at the centre of this case occurred in January 2017.
The main prosecution evidence was from a man who was present in the room during part of the disputed incident. He described what happened as rape and that the woman was degraded by the man.
The 42-year-old defendant told the judge and jury that he walked home with the woman afterwards.
“We walked up the road together. It would have been a case of: ‘Right, good luck.’ She said: ‘You had sex with me and now you are dumping me. You will pay for this.’ Now, two years later, I am sitting in the box paying for it,” the accused said.
“I could not believe those charges were after being put on paper. These were invented by two mentally unstable people and continued by the guards,” the accused said.
“My life, my name, everything is on the line. I did not do what I am accused of. No matter what verdict comes back, I am innocent,” he said.
Late in their deliberations today, the jury returned to court with a question. They asked if it had not been proved that the accused used a broken bottle to threaten the woman, was it right to acquit on all six charges.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt discussed this matter with prosecution and defence senior counsels, Alice Fawsitt and Blaise O’Carroll, respectively, in the absence of the jury. He then told the jury that the answer to their question was yes.
The judge said proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he used the bottle on the woman was necessary for all charges to be proven.
The six charges were two counts of rape, three counts of aggravated sexual assault by threat of violence by the production of a broken wine bottle and a sixth count of production of a weapon to intimidate, namely a broken wine bottle.
The judge said that while the broken bottle was an expressed part of the latter four charges, it was an implied part of the two rape charges as well.
In terms of considering the evidence, Mr Justice Hunt said, “The bottle is the gateway to everything.”
The main prosecution witness was in the room during part of the sex between the woman and the defendant, which was described by the accused as consensual.
The witness testified. “He (the defendant) lunged and caught her by the throat, he broke the bottle off the side of the bed and stuck it to her throat,” he said.
The witness also said that when some of his medication went missing and it appeared that the woman had taken it, the defendant said she would have to give the witness a “blow job”.
He said that when he did not want sex the defendant then told her she would have to give him (the defendant) a “blow job”.
The defendant denied these allegations and said that he never said: “People like you should be cut up and put in a suitcase” to the woman.