Limerick man on trial for rape and torture of girlfriend

The Central Criminal Court where the jury will begin deliberations on Thursday morning.
The Central Criminal Court where the jury will begin deliberations on Thursday morning.

A jury is to begin deliberating tomorrow in the trial of a Limerick man accused of torturing, raping and imprisoning his girlfriend over a seven day period.

The nine day trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that the accused dragged the mother of his child into a car when he suspected she was seeing another man.

The woman said she was beaten and taken to a house where she was kept against her will. Over the course of six days she was raped “countless times” including with a bottle of beer.

She alleged the man held her head under water in a basin until she started to drown and that he scalded her genitals with hot water. She said he also encouraged his friend to rape her.

The woman told the jury that on the sixth day she was brought to another house where the accused went into a jealous rage and beat her with a shovel until it broke.

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The defence admit that the accused beat the woman once but say that the other allegations are false. They say the sex was all consensual and the woman had many opportunities to leave the house if she wanted to.

They have also pointed to evidence that the woman was happy with the man, such as her giving him a love bite during the alleged ordeal.

The 35-year-old accused has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape, two counts of false imprisonment and four counts of assault causing harm at various locations in Limerick between May 3 and May 9, 2012.

He has pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing harm and the jury has been ordered to return not guilty verdicts on two charges of sex assault which were not supported by the evidence.

The jury of six men and six women are expected to begin deliberations this Thursday morning.

At the start of the trial, the woman told prosecuting counsel Dominic McGinn SC that she was getting into a taxi when the accused pulled up in a car and blocked her in. He suspected that she was going to see another man and pulled her out of the car by her hair before putting her in his friend’s car.

She said the accused found the other man’s number in her phone and “went mental”. She said he beat her before taking her into his own car and stripping her to her underwear.

She alleged he put her in the boot before taking her into a house where the beating continued

She said he had sex with her on a couch in front of his friend and told his friend to have sex with her too. The friend refused, saying she was the accused’s partner.

She said over the next six days she was locked in the bedroom and raped repeatedly by the man.

“He continuously raped, tortured and beat me,” she said. “I consented to most of them because I was in fear of my life.”

She alleged he raped her anally and with a bottle and that he poured vodka over her vagina.

He allegedly asked her how long she could hold her breath before saying “you’re going to find out” and holding her head under water in the sink.

After six days he drove her to another house so she could visit their child. When the other man she was supposed to be seeing rang her phone, the accused answered and started “roaring” down the phone.

She said he then beat her with a shovel until it broke. She said she tried to trick the accused into letting her go by assuring him that she loved him and wanted to be with him.

He dropped her back to her home the next day where she broke down crying and alerted the gardaí

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC presented evidence that the woman was willingly in the house that week. He said there was no lock on the front door and that she had many opportunities to escape or call for help such as when the accused passed out from drink or when she went to a local shop.

He said the jury must take into account that the woman was in phone contact with two social workers yet didn’t alert them. She also went to fight another woman who she was unhappy with because she was contacting the accused. He also pointed to a love bite given by the woman to the accused.

The woman said that she only did these things to trick the man into releasing her.

The defence also presented evidence of a later letter to the accused’s father which stated that she still loved the accused and that he would only face an assault charge.

“Tell (the accused) that all that shit that was in the papers, I’ll make that clear in court,” the letter read.

The prosecution contend the woman was confused about her feelings and was also trying to maintain a relationship with the accused so she could see their child. The woman said she was probably on drugs when she wrote the letter.

Mr Bowman told the jurors that they may think his client was “a brute” and that the relationship was brutal and unconventional but that “we’re dealing with a different social environment where certain things are accepted as normal.”

In relation to the false imprisonment and the woman’s claim that she didn’t escape out of fear, he submitted that “having nowhere to go is very different from not being able to go anywhere.”