Declan Brennan and Jessica Magee
Two Limerick men have been sentenced to 12 years in prison, with one year suspended, for what a judge described as the “cynical and calculated” rape of a 14-year-old girl.
The men, aged 27 and 26, both deny raping the teenager when she was “comatose” with alcohol on the night of April 22nd, 2017.
The men, who cannot be named in order to protect the statutory anonymity of the complainant, were convicted following trial at the Central Criminal Court last November.
Passing sentence on Monday, Justice Eileen Creedon said the men had taken the girl to an isolated area, given her more alcohol and raped her in succession, “robbing her of her innocence” in “extremely degrading and humiliating” circumstances.
She said it was a “cynical, calculated and egregious” crime and that the men had “taken advantage of a young and vulnerable child” when she was “comatose” with alcohol.
Frightened and guilt-ridden
At an earlier hearing, the complainant told the court that the rape had changed her from a carefree, bubbly child to a frightened, guilt-ridden victim. She said she still feels shame and anxiety as a result of the events that night.
Justice Creedon said there was very little by way of mitigation for the two accused given that they completely denied and continued to deny the offences. The judge said this left the complainant without any acknowledgement of the hurt and harm caused to her.
Probation reports said the men had no victim empathy and were at moderate risk of both sexual and non-sexual violent reoffending.
The court heard that both men considered themselves to be victims in the case and had told gardaí that they believed the girl was aged 16 at the time.
The 27-year-old defendant, who was 22 at the time, was convicted on the single count of rape. His 26-year-old co-accused, who was 21 at the time, was convicted of rape and an additional charge of sexual assault. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for the sexual assault charge, to run concurrently.
The court heard that on the night in question, the girl was drinking alcohol with her group of friends and that the two defendants joined them.
At some point the victim's friends dispersed, and she was left alone with the two men, who took her to an isolated area and gave her more alcohol to drink. She told gardaí later that she was very drunk and had limited memory of where she was.
She said “she was in a mess”. She said she was passed out and woke up to find the 21-year-old taking down her leggings and sexually assaulting her.
The complainant said she was falling in and out of consciousness and came to again a little later to find the 21-year-old raping her. She said when he finished, he said to the other man: “It's your turn.”
She said this man began raping her while the first man masturbated. She said that after both men had ejaculated, they walked back with her across the fields to a nearby residential area where they were met by her mother who was out searching for her.
Alice Fawsitt SC, prosecuting, told the court previously that the complainant “knew she was in trouble then, she was in a mess, she was extremely drunk”. She said her mother was extremely cross, and the complainant said nothing about the sexual activity.
A week later the teenager feared she was pregnant and bought a test. This came back negative, but her mother found the packaging and confronted the girl who told her she had been raped.
In her victim impact statement, the girl said that rumours spread in the locality, and she became marked as “the girl who was raped” and that some people said “vulgar things” about her.
She said she and her family decided to leave the area to get away from this.
She said she had left her home on the night of the rapes “a bubbly, fun-loving, outgoing kid” and came home “a frightened, confused, guilt-ridden victim”.
She said her family had to uproot their lives.
Lawyers for both men told the court that their clients did not accept the jury verdicts and continue to protest their innocence.
Counsel for the younger defendant said his client felt hard done by and wronged by the conviction.
He said his client was a young man who has started a family since these events and has held down a job.
Counsel for the now 27-year-old asked the court to consider that he was still a relatively young man and had no other relevant criminal convictions.
Justice Creedon suspended the final year of the sentence and ordered both accused to abide by the supervision of the probation services and to attend offence-focused work and additional support services as directed.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.