A FORTY-one-year-old man was found guilty by a jury of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman in his home on Christmas Eve in 2009.
The man who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim had pleaded not guilty to the offence and claimed that it was consensual and that he immediately stopped after she asked him to.
The incident occurred after the victim had a fight with her fiance in an east Mayo town and accepted a lift home from the defendant. However, instead of bringing her home he brought her to his house where Castlebar Circuit Court heard he gave her some whiskey and sexually assaulted her on his sofa.
The victim was only introduced to the defendant a few hours previously through a mutual friend.
When interviewed by gardaí after the incident, the defendant said the victim had been complaining about her fiance and he admitted that he ‘chanced his luck’. He said they were ‘messing’ on the sofa and he was rubbing her leg and claimed that ‘as soon as she said stop, I stopped’.
He claimed that he even phoned a mutual friend and said she was in his house and she was upset.
The victim told the court that she and her fiance had a fight over a mark on his neck which she thought was a lovebite. The court heard that he stormed off after she scratched his face, leaving her on the street in freezing conditions with no money for a taxi. While she was waiting, the defendant asked her why she was upset and offered her a lift home.
However, instead of bringing her home he brought her to his house and she claimed she was led into the house. When asked by James Dwyer, BL for the State how she felt, she said ‘I just wanted to go home’.
She said he sat down beside her and put his hand on her leg and she said she wanted to go home. The victim described the defendant leaning over her and tried to pull her jeans down. She said she asked him to stop but he put his hand down her jeans and put his hand inside her.
“I felt scared. I thought he was going to rape me,” she said. “I was telling him to stop. I wanted to go home. I didn’t know what to do, I was so scared.”
When he stopped she claimed he told her that he didn’t do anything wrong. She said when he was on the phone to somebody she ran out the door and managed to get onto the main road before being picked up by a car and taken to a garda station.
The court had earlier heard that the victim had moved to the area with her fiance the previous October.
Under cross-examination from Mr John Hogan, counsel for the defendant the victim admitted that she drank around eight vodkas during the night. Mr Hogan put it to her that she went into the house with the defendant of her own free will and that she was trying to get back at her fiance.
“You were trying to get your own back at [fiance]. You were not thinking on the night and you went too far. The only thing [client] did wrong was pick you up. You were trouble the minute he picked you up,” he said to her.
However, she denied the allegation put to her saying that she kept asking the defendant to bring her home.
In his submission, Mr Hogan said the incident which occurred was consensual and asked the jury to acquit his client. However the jury of six men and six women took less than two hours to fight him guilty. Sentencing was adjourned until October 25 for a victim impact statement.