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Sentence was passed at the Central Criminal Court.

Clare man jailed for ‘opportunistic’ rape of student

A YOUNG man who “opportunistically” raped a university student friend after creeping into her bed in the middle of the night has been jailed for four and a half years.

The now 23-year-old Clare man was found guilty by a jury of one count of raping the young woman at an address in Dublin on May 23, 2017 following a Central Criminal Court trial last July. He has no previous convictions.

The woman, now aged 25, told the court that after the attack she lost many university friends, with a lot of people saying she was lying. She said many of her male friends urged her not to go to gardaí telling her that she was “over-reacting”.

The court heard the man now accepts the guilty verdict and a letter of apology was handed up to court.

The court heard the woman’s two male friends, including the defendant, spent the night in her apartment after watching a movie and she and one of the men engaged in consensual sexual activity in her bedroom. In the middle of the night, the defendant slipped into the woman’s bed while the first man was in the bathroom.

He then forced himself on the woman, raping her as she struggled and repeatedly asked him to stop. The woman initially thought it was the man she had been in bed with earlier and only realised the defendant had raped her when she followed him out to the sitting room.

In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court by Sergeant Kevin Rooney, the woman said at the time of the attack, she was studying her dream course in her chosen university and was an “outgoing, courageous and enthusiastic” 19-year-old.

“Since then I’ve discovered the world is a dark place for naive girls who don’t know better,” she said.

The woman outlined the emotional and physical “agony” she suffered in the wake of the attack and how she struggled with anxiety, depression and nightmares. She described how she lost many university friends, with a lot of people saying she was lying and others telling her she was “over-reacting”.

Sentencing the man this week, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said it was a “dreadful breach of trust” by a man who was invited into the woman’s home as a friend and who then “opportunistically” assaulted her.

“He committed this offence because he could, taking advantage of the fact the other man left the room,” Mr Justice McDermott said. The judge noted the man “assaulted her sense of personal security” and “usurped her and her human right to make her own informed decisions”.

“It was an extremely selfish and opportunistic act,” the judge said, noting the harm caused to the victim as a result.

He took into account a number of mitigating factors including the fact the man now accepts the verdict of the jury and has acknowledged his guilt, his sincere remorse and his positive cooperation with the Probation Service.

“He has genuinely reflected on what he did,” Mr Justice McDermott said. He handed down a sentence of five and a half years and suspended the final 12 months on a number of conditions.

Sergeant Rooney told Caroline Cummings BL, prosecuting, that the man was arrested in November 2017 and told gardaí he had consensual sex with the woman and that she initiated it.

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, said that despite standing trial, the man has since expressed remorse for his actions that night and a letter of apology was read out in court.

Mr Dwyer said the man has a good work history, no criminal history and comes from a supportive and loving family. A number of testimonials were read out in court.

He now understands that his actions that night were “totally unacceptable” the court heard and he has expressed an insight into the emotional effect the attack would have had on her.

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