DCSIMG

Donegal man acquitted of false imprisonment and rape

The Central Criminal Court, Dublin

The Central Criminal Court, Dublin

A Donegal man will be sentenced later this month for criminal damage of his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook page after being acquitted of false imprisonment and rape.

The 30-year old accused, who cannot be named, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to falsely imprisoning and raping the woman at her home in the early hours of April 6, 2011.

He pleaded guilty to criminal damage by altering her Facebook settings on the same date.

The court heard the man accessed his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook account and posted an insulting status purporting to be her.

During the trial, the woman told the court she remained in contact with the man as a friend after their relationship had ended in January 2011.

She said she had agreed to speak with the man in private after he had turned up at her home while she was watching TV with her new partner.

The woman said that during the conversation the man left the sitting room and she heard the key turn in the front door. She said she realised the man had her phone and she was locked into the house with him.

She described how she initially refused the man’s sexual advances, but began to feel weak after he threatened her.

The woman said the man raped her in her bedroom. She said afterwards she thought the man had left her house, but found him in the sitting room.

She told the jury he grabbed her throat and threatened to harm her boyfriend, before leaving the house with her phone.

The woman said she decided to leave and as she drove down the road, her ex-boyfriend followed in his vehicle.

She said she drove to a friend’s house when the man stopped following her and later realised that he had posted a status purporting to be her on her Facebook page.

The woman denied a suggestion by Isobel Kennedy SC, defending, that she and the man had engaged in consensual sex.

Ms Kennedy showed the woman a letter she had written to her ex-boyfriend in March 2011, which gardaí found in her bedroom.

The woman disagreed the letter suggested she and the man had still been in a relationship. She said she couldn’t remember writing it, but accepted she must have felt that way at the time.

The accused told gardai that the woman informed him she had started a relationship with someone else because she was lonely.

He said she agreed to have sex with him if he would forget about her and move on. The other conditions were that he was “not to be cheeky about it” or tell her new partner.

He denied raping, assaulting or falsely imprisoning his ex-girlfriend. He admitted sending texts from her phone and logging into her Facebook page to post a status. He said he was “hurt, sad and drunk” at the time.

The woman’s friend told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that she thought someone had died when the woman arrived at her home in the early hours of the morning. The witness described the woman as “inconsolable”.

She told Ms Kennedy that she might have spoken “briefly” to the woman about the alleged incident after making her garda statement.

The woman’s current partner told Mr Gillane that he got a text message from the complainant’s phone. One read: “...you crossed a line...but she made it up to me there the only way she knows how.”

Late yesterday (Tuesday) the jury of six women and six men returned a unanimous not guilty verdict on the rape and false imprisonment counts after six hours deliberating. It was day five of the trial.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan thanked the jury members for the careful manner with which they dealt with the trial and remanded the man on continuing bail until sentencing on June 30.

 
 
 

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