Former Ros na Rún actor withdraws sentence appeal for oral rape conviction

Former Ros na Rún actor withdraws sentence appeal for oral rape conviction

Eoin Reynolds

Former Ros na Rún actor, Garrett Phillips, has withdrawn an appeal against his sentence for raping a young woman in Galway four years ago.

The Court of Appeal previously rejected an appeal against his rape conviction, but his sentence appeal was due to go ahead this morning. Fiona Murphy SC for Phillips told the three-judge court that her client wishes to withdraw his appeal. President of the court Mr Justice George Birmingham accepted the withdrawal.

Phillips (48) a father of two of St Mary’s Terrace, Taylor’s Hill, Galway, was convicted by a 11-1 majority verdict of a single charge of orally raping a 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city on November 5th, 2015 following a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court.

He was subsequently sentenced to six years in prison for the offence.

Not guilty plea

A jury heard evidence that the actor had orally raped his victim after she had fallen asleep in his van after he had offered her a lift home. They had met earlier after she was sitting on a park bench after a night out while he was walking his dog.

Phillips, who played the character of Dr Cathal Hennessy in the popular TG4 soap series between 2011 and 2014, had pleaded not guilty to the charge and claimed the sexual act was consensual.

At an appeal of the conviction earlier this year Ms Murphy said the trial judge, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon, had erred in law by refusing an application by her client’s legal team to cross-examine the complainant about a reference in her statement that she had engaged in an oral sex act with her boyfriend about a week before the offence.

Ms Murphy claimed the issue had relevance because of its proximity in time and the similar nature of the sexual act for which Phillips had been convicted.

Opposing the appeal, Paul Greene SC, for the DPP, said although there were two incidents of oral sex, one had taken place in the context of a consensual relationship and the issue had no relevance.

The DPP also argued that Phillips had suffered no unfairness by not being allowed cross-examine the victim on the matter.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, sitting with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said evidence was only admissible if it was relevant.

He added: “We can’t see how the topic in question could have the slightest relevance on the facts in this case. The victim of the crime engaged in sexual activity with her boyfriend. That is all.”

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