Two young Limerick men who denied raping a 14-year-old girl in County Clare after they had been drinking together have both been found guilty of rape.
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon thanked the jury of seven men and five women after they concluded their deliberations, which commenced on Tuesday afternoon, and delivered their unanimous verdicts.
They found both men guilty of raping the 14-year-old when they were in their early 20s.
Ms Justice Creedon said that in light of the guilty verdicts she was remanding both men in custody for sentencing on February 28.
She requested pre-sanction probation reports on the two defendants. A victim impact statement will also be prepared.
Particulars of the location are not published in order to protect the identity of the victim.
The victim said she was very drunk at the time and went to a remote area with the two men who had sexual intercourse with her as she drifted in and out of consciousness. She said she and her friends asked the two men to buy drink for them in a local shop as they were too young to be served.
Prosecution senior counsel Alice Fawsitt asked the jury in her closing speech to consider the fact that the complainant was aged 14 at the time of the disputed rapes and that the accused men were 21 and 22.
Ms Fawsitt said that the evidence from one of the complainant’s friends about the two men being in the company of the young people earlier that evening was that one of them said, “This is the life – drinking with 14-year-olds.”
Ms Fawsitt said there was ample evidence that the two defendants knew the complainant was 14.
The prosecution senior counsel asked the jurors to use their common sense about the girl not making a rape complaint there and then late that night. She said the complainant walked across a field with the two men to see her mother and relatives of the men at the gate and that she (the complainant) knew she would be in trouble for going drinking.
Describing the allegation of rape, Ms Fawsitt said of the complainant, “She goes off in the dark with the two of them. She does not prevent them from having sexual intercourse with her. (At one stage) she is trying to get her clothes on and she is pushed forward and told, ‘Now it’s his turn.’ “She puts her clothes back on and she sees her angry mother and she sees angry strangers… It would be astonishing if she confessed to what happened – for any 14-year-old girl to say there and then what happened to her.”
She got a pregnancy test kit some time later because she thought she had missed her period but she was not pregnant. However, her mother found the test kit behind her bed some three weeks after the alleged rapes and that was when the teenager told her mother what happened to her.
Defence senior counsel Maurice Collins said that when one considered her evidence about being abandoned by her friends he said this changed and also her friends gave different accounts. “There is no supporting evidence, only contradictions.”
He said his client said consistently throughout that there was no sexual or improper contact by him at any time. “He says the only untoward thing is that she tried to grab his ‘cock’ putting her hand down his pants,” Mr Collins SC said.
“There is no medical or scientific evidence of any sexual activity in this case,” he said.
Mr Collins said he would try, from his knowledge of teenagers, to answer the question of why she made these rape allegations: “The one thing I have become aware of is that they are very concerned about their reputations – Is this why she chose these two men as scapegoats – these bete noires buying drink for teenagers. One thing is certain, once the Jeanie is out of the bottle it is very difficult to retract.”
Mark Nicholas, defence senior counsel for the co-accused, said what an enormously serious crime rape was and then said, “The flip-side of that is that the mere allegation is extremely toxic for anyone accused of it – it sticks like tar to a person who is accused. Without being judgemental it can be easy to make the allegation, it can be very difficult to refute. But the defence is – ‘It did not happen, I did not rape this girl’.”
“The thrust of everything I say is that there was absolutely no contact.”
Examining the evidence of the complainant, Mr Nicholas said, “If you look at how the story unfolds we have an emerging narrative – bits coming here, bits emerging there. That is something I would ask you to concentrate on… We have a free-flowing creative narrative flowing here.”
In that context, Mr Nicholas said the jury had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt if they were going to convict the accused on the complainant’s evidence.
Neither of the defendants gave evidence.
Memos of their interviews with gardaí were read and in these, they denied rape or having any kind of sexual contact with the complainant.
The complainant was 14 at the time of the disputed incidents on April 22 2017 and is now 19.
The 27-year-old defendant, who was 22 at the time, was convicted on the single count of rape.
His co-accused, who is 26, and was 21 at the time, was convicted of rape and an additional charge of sexual assault.