A Dublin man who raped a teenage girl in the grounds of a GAA club has been jailed for five years.
The 26-year-old man, who can’t be named to protect the anonymity of his victim, was found guilty of rape following a trial at the Central Criminal Court in July.
He had pleaded not guilty to one count of rape on May 25th, 2017 in the grounds of a GAA club. The victim was aged 16 at the time, while the man was then 19. He has no previous convictions.
Justice David Keane sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment on Monday, backdated to when the man entered custody on July 17th, 2023.
An investigating garda told Eilis Brennan, prosecuting, that the victim was friends with the man’s sibling. The man would often buy cigarettes for her and they were friendly.
On the day in question, they were texting and the girl asked him to get her some cigarettes, which he did. He asked her to go for a walk, and she said she was with friends.
The man told her to let him know when she was ready. At 9.58pm, he texted her asking her to hurry and she replied that she was leaving her friends.
He told her he was at a GAA club and they arranged to meet in the club’s grounds.
The victim told gardaí that she thought they would go there to smoke. They sat down, had a smoke and started chatting. The man tried to kiss the girl, but she said no as she didn’t want to kiss him.
She said the man then pushed her shoulders and she fell backwards. She told him no, but he started to kiss her face, hands and stomach.
She said the man also tried to put his hands down her top and trousers. The woman said she didn’t scream as she didn’t know what he was going to do. The man then raped her.
Afterwards, he smoked cannabis, then left. The teenager was shocked as she thought her friend’s brother would look after her.
She went home and later challenged the man in a text exchange, part of which was deleted.
She told her mother what happened shortly afterwards and a complaint was made to gardaí. She was taken to a sexual assault treatment unit where lower back pain and bruising was identified.
The man gave a voluntary statement under caution to gardaí in July 2017. He accepted he had been in the GAA ground with the girl and said they kissed. He claimed the victim told him not to tell anyone as she didn’t want her boyfriend to find out.
The victim’s impact statement was read to the court by Ms Brennan. She said she received no support and was left to deal with the effects by herself. She said she hadn’t spoken to anyone about what happened for six years and was afraid to go out in case she saw him.
She said she didn’t finish school and moved away from the area, but has since returned. She works, but feels she has to hide if a member of the man’s family comes to her workplace.
“I will never understand why it happened. Did I do something wrong,” she said, adding that it is “hard to live with”.
She said she has pretended to be okay and will continue to do so “until the day comes when I’m okay”.
Defence counsel, Paul Greene, noted the Probation Service assesses his client at a medium risk of reoffending.
He said his client has taken a “particular position” in relation to the verdict, but respects the court process.
Defence counsel said while “rape is an inherently violent act”, there was “no more significant violence” involved in this incident.
Imposing sentence, Mr Justice David Keane said an aggravating factor was that the man was three and a half years older than the victim. He also noted the man pleaded not guilty and has not made an apology.
Mitigating factors were that the man had previously been of good character, co-operated with gardaí and has not come to garda attention on other matters.
Justice Keane wished the victim well in what he hopes “will be her continuing recovery”.
A number of testimonials from the man’s friends, family and former colleagues were also handed into the court on his behalf.
The guilty man maintains his innocence and does not accept the jury’s verdict.