Limerick ’50 Shades of Grey’ trial told ‘sexting should not damage credibility’



Limerick Circuit Court
Limerick Circuit Court heard details of the sexting between the accused and the woman

JUST because a woman engages in ‘sexting’, should not damage her credibility in making a complaint to gardai, the jury in the Limerick trial of man charged with sexual assaulting a mother of two has been told.

However, following one hour and 48 minutes of deliberations, the five women and seven men returned a unanimous not guilty verdict in the trial of a 35-year-old man who denied two counts of sexual assault on his former partner and the mother of his child at her home three years ago.

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Prosecution counsel for the State, John O’Sullivan BL asked the jury to consider the shock romantic novelist Jane Austen would have “if she walked in to a bookshop and saw 50 Shades of Grey – but such is the change in society that we have today.

“Considering that, it is wrong to say that just because someone wrote certain content in text messages, it would therefore damage her credibility to make a complaint of sexual assault which was ‘forceful and violent’ and carried out by a man who was described as controlling and angry’”.

In his closing address after two days of evidence, Mr O’Sullivan said that the alleged victim was of good character and that there was evidence to support her claims made against the man that she had a four and half year ‘on-and-off’ relationship with.

During the trial, the jury of five women and seven men heard that the accused was described as a “jealous” lover who became jilted over a text message sent to an ex partner just after the couple had consensual sex in the woman’s home in January 2013.

The relationship was described as often “volatile” but also “highly sexually charged”.

The 35-year-old accused, was living in Clare at the time of the alleged offence and denied the charges of two counts of sexual assault on a woman who he had an “on-and-off relationship” with on January 26 and 27, 2013.

The trial heard that the victim was “sexting” messages agreeing to be a “naughty sex slave” and to be tied to a tree to have her “ass slapped” just before she claimed she was sexually assaulted.

“Jealousy”, the court heard, was said to be the main background to the case and that this fuelled the accused aggression to commit the alleged assaults.

In her evidence, the victim, told the court that she had a child with an ex-lover in 2005 and despite the relationship ending, they remain on good terms.

In 2008, the woman said that she began a sporadic relationship with the accused they had a child in 2010.

On the night of January 26, 2013, the victim told the court that she and the accused had consensual sex before the accused saw a text message that was sent to her former ex-partner saying “Goodnight X”.

Enraged, the woman described how the accused man forced himself on her, demanding anal sex and slapping her on the “bum area” while repeatedly shouting “whose ass is this, whose is it…say it’s mine, say it, say it, say it”.

Emotional while giving her evidence, the victim said “he was trying to force his penis in to my anus”, before she broke down in the witness box.

Recomposing herself, the victim said that she refused and wriggled her way out but again the accused shouted and slapped her saying “you will like it, you will be begging me for more”.

“It took all my strength to stop him – I was begging him” she said before again breaking down in the witness box.

The next day, the accused, according to the victim, confronted her with the text message and blamed her for the events of the night before.

In her evidence, the victim said that over the course of the following day, she thought that matters had calmed when the two were in contact via text and phone conversations.

The court heard that that in the aftermath of the first alleged sexual assault, the woman sent more explicit messages inviting the accused to have “outdoor sex” and including that “you can tie me to a tree and slap my ass all you want”.

Later she said “I was on auto pilot through the day. I felt it was my fault, but then I thought that he would come back and say that it would never happen again and we could put it behind us. I didn’t realise what I opened the door to that night”, she said before revealing details of the second alleged assault.

The man returned late that and the alleged victim said that he demanded oral sex when all she wanted to do was talk about the night before.

“He told me that he didn’t come to talk and dropped his pants and underwear.”

“He forced me to the ground and pushed his penis into my face demanding that I ‘suck it’”, she said.

“He was angry and saying that he didn’t come there to talk and saying a whole load of vulgar things. They were derogatory and he kept saying it over and over as he stuck his penis in to my face”, she told the court.

“He kept pushing his penis towards my mouth while his hands were over my head”, the woman told the jury.

During cross examination by defence counsel Lorcan Connolly BL, the woman accepted that she sent numerous sexually orientated text messages during the course of the relationship but claimed she only did this to “keep him happy”.

The woman denied that the marks she received arose out of “robust sex”, she had with the accused and that the texts were a “curious response to what was alleged to have happened the night before”.

Details of some of the messages read out to the court included that the woman agreed to be the accused’s “naughty sex slave” and that she longed for his “shaft” in her mouth and to “choke” on it.

The woman denied that she consented to the man’s demands adding that she was “in love with someone who was very wrong for me”.

“I never agreed to any of that – he was forceful, violent and angry. I begged and pleaded for him to stop.”

Asked to explain the explicit texts, the woman said that she sent those “just because he asked me to, he got a kick out of them when we were not together. I was so embarrassed I sent the first few in Irish she said”, but Mr Connolly put it to her that this painted a “very different picture”.

The victim said that the events had “a huge effect on my life” adding that she suffered panic attacks and endured months of counselling.

“The texts were meant to be fun and not an excuse for him to beat me or become violent”.

Mr Connolly asked why the victim sent a text to the accused saying that she “can’t wait for your hot ass”, the woman said “I didn’t want him to come in home angry”.

The court heard that the woman broke down and confided in a friend two days after the alleged incident and that the father of the woman’s first child took 22 pictures of her injuries the next day and that he initiated contact with gardai.

On the day she made a statement of complaint to Gardai, the court heard details that the woman engaged in texting with the accused seeking an “explanation and apology” for what had allegedly happened.

Following his arrest in February 2013, the accused man denied the sexual assault allegations when they were put to him during the garda interviews.

He denied that he was every aggressive and that any slapping between the two “did not have any force”.

Asked why he apologised to the alleged victim in text message on the Sunday evening, the accused said that the couple had a disagreement but this was after and not related to the consensual oral sex they had.

He added, “women are fickle, sure aren’t we always apologising to them”.

In his closing argument, Lorcan Connolly defence counsel for the accused man said that it was simply the case that the 35-year-old denied the sexual assault claims made by the woman.

“Lies and nonsense” is how the accused described the allegations to Gardai and Mr Connolly asked the jury to consider the “only option as being not guilty”.

Before retiring the jury to begin their deliberations, Judge O’Donnell asked the jury to be as “dispassionate as possible in considering the verdict and stick to the evidence that has been put before you. The consequences of any verdict should not be of concern to you”.

Shortly before 5pm this Thursday, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty on both counts.