Donegal man cleared of sexual assault and assault of woman

Judge orders jury to find Raphoe man not guilty

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Man cleared of dangerous driving causing death of motorcyclist in Donegal

Letterkenny Courthouse

A Donegal man has been acquitted of the sexual assault and assault of a woman he had been drinking with.

Samuel James Clarke, of Magherane, Raphoe had denied all charges at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

Mr Clarke claimed  he had consensual sex with the woman who is in her 40s.

Clarke, 53, and another man called to the home of the woman with alcohol at 8.30 in the morning and they all began drinking together on a date in 2015.

The woman admitted that she had more than 20 drinks over a number of hours and claimed Mr Clarke assaulted her by pressing her hand down on a stove and later sexually assaulted her.

She denied she ever had sex with Mr Clarke.

The woman said she left her house after Clarke and another man called to her home and went to visit a relative and continued drinking.

It was here she claims that Mr Clarke pressed her hands down on a stove and she had to put cold water on her hands as they blistered.

During this time in her relative's home, other witnesses said the woman continually sat on Mr Clarke's lap which she denied.

She then asked Clarke, who denies assault and sexual assault, to drive her to her home to feed her dog and then went to Clarke's home in Raphoe.

Mr Clarke claimed they had consensual sex at his home.

The woman claimed he forced himself on her, put his knees on her arms and tried to sexually assault her.

She told the court she  then "kneed him in the balls" and ran out of her house and back to her relatives home.

However, in cross-examination the woman then said she stayed for a drink after the incident before leaving.

In his statement to Gardai, Clarke said he did have sex with the woman and that it was consensual.

He said they had sex and that the woman was not wearing any underwear, but that after they had sex, she asked him for a loan of €1,000.

He then claimed that after they had sex the woman said she could cry that he had raped her.

Cross-examining the woman, barrister for Mr Clarke, Shane Costelloe (SC), put it to her that this was the fourth such claim of sexual assault she had made against different men, but she denied this.

Garda Brendan McCann said there was no evidence that the woman had made the complaints of other alleged sexual assaults.

The court was also shown a letter which the woman had signed saying she wished to withdraw her complaint.

The woman said it was her signature and that she did sign it because she was fearful of giving evidence in the case.

Clinical nurse specialist Connie McGilloway carried out an examination of the woman at the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in Letterkenny at 11am on May 20th, 2016.

She said the woman was "quite shaken" and was tearful in the unit but did calm down.

Following a 'top to toe' examination, it showed that the woman had numerous bruising (59 bruises) and abrasions on her body as well as blisters on her hand.

Nurse McGilloway said she did not carry out a genital examination as the woman said there had been no penetration.

Barrister for Mr Clarke, Shane Costelloe, sought a direction from the court that the case not be allowed to go to the jury.

Having studied the application, Judge O'Sullivan granted the direction on both charges.

In relation to the first charge of alleged assault, he found that the proof did not reach the required level of intention.

On the alleged sexual assault charge, Judge Terence O'Sullivan said the charge was so fraught with difficulties that it would be dangerous.

for it be allowed to go to the jury.

Judge O'Sullivan told the jury of four men and eight women to find the accused not guilty

"on the direction of the judge."