THE jury in the trial of a 26-year-old man charged with the alleged sexual assault of a woman who was said to have been “unconscious” following a drug and drink fuelled Limerick house party, is to begin its deliberations.
The trial, running at Limerick Circuit Court before Judge Tom O’Donnell, heard evidence from two female friends of the alleged injured party, as well as the 24-year-old victim herself.
Prosecution counsel for the State, John O’Sullivan said that after a house party in Dooradoyle where alcohol and “Up Johns” (anti-depressant) tablets were taken, the accused man was found on top of the woman in a downstairs bedroom of the house.
She had passed out during the party and was put to bed in her clothes by her friends while they continued to drink into the early hours of the morning.
Drunk, and unwilling to take part in the illicit drug taking, the accused man claimed he had left the sitting room first and went to the downstairs bedroom to go to sleep. He said that the girl was put into bed with him afterwards.
In a statement to gardai, the accused man, who pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the woman at an address in Dooradoyle on December 4, 2009 last, said that the girl placed her arm around him while in bed.
“One thing led to another” he told gardai and he said that they were holding and feeling each other and he took off his pants and she took off hers.
However, the trial heard from two witnesses, who also lived at the house, claiming that the 26-year-old accused came to bed after the girl and that he was found lying on top of the woman who had passed out from drink and drugs.
During the evidence, the court was told that the woman had consumed vodka, wine, buckfast and a quantity of Up Johns tablets (xanax).
One of the friends of the alleged victim who was at the party said in evidence that she helped put her friend to bed.
She said that her friend was wearing a jeans and a top.
They returned to the party and went to bed with her boyfriend sometime later. On being told of some muttering coming from the downstairs bedroom, the friend went down to investigate and she told the jury that she opened the door to find the man lying half naked on top of the woman “having sex”.
Alerting her other housemates as to what she claimed she saw, the friend then pulled the accused off the woman.
The court was told that the man was ordered to leave the house and a scuffle ensued. One male witness said “he (the accused) wasn’t getting dressed quickly enough”, and he punched the accused in the face.
In her evidence, the alleged injured party said that she can not remember what happened on the night in question after she passed out and that the next thing she remembered was waking up around lunchtime the next day.
Statements were made to gardai the following day and the woman was examined by the doctors at the sexual assault clinic and other medical professionals.
However, the court heard that the forensic tests carried out on the woman, returned negative as to having any presence of the DNA of the accused man.
During closing speeches, prosecution counsel John O’Sullivan said that the case was one where “consent was never given” by the woman for the accused to enter her bed or engage in any sexual touching or feeling.
Mark Nicholas, defence counsel for the 26-year-old said that the evidence of the State only painted a “certain picture and certainly not the entire version of events”.
He added that the charge of sexual assault “is the most toxic and corrosive of charges that can be levelled against a man in society today”.
Especially, he said, “if the evidence of the State relies on three people who were drinking and taking drugs for the best part of six hours.”
Mr Nicholas asked the jury to consider the state of the people giving evidence for the prosecution as they must have been impaired in their judgement.
“We don’t know what happened in the room on the lead up to the witness walking in and they certainly don’t know either”.