Judge fears 'tsunami' of murder and rape cases due to online drinking contests

Judge fears 'tsunami' of murder and rape cases due to online drinking contests

A High Court judge has said if internet drinking contests continue, they will result in a “tsunami” of homicide and rape prosecutions before his court.

Mr Justice Paul Carney was speaking as he was sentencing a 38-year-old Waterford man who, after drinking six to seven pints of Budweiser, raped an acquaintance having offered her a lift home from their local nightclub.

Today the man received an eight-year sentence with the final three years suspended. An 18-month post-release supervision order was also imposed and the man was registered a sex offender.

The married father-of-two had pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape in a wooded area outside a Waterford town on February 21, 2011. His only previous convictions were for road traffic offences.

Mr Justice Carney said it was the latest case in a long line in which young men with no previous convictions, from good families take a quantity of drink they are not used to and “end up the following morning facing responsibility for a homicide or a rape and it seems to be a lottery as to which it is going to be”.

“It’s a male phenomenon,” he continued before he added, “if the current internet drinking contest takes hold, it is going to result in a tsunami of homicide and rape prosecutions coming before this court”.

Mr Justice Carney said he was taking into account the man’s early guilty plea and immediate acceptance of what he had done before he suspended the final three years of the eight-year term.

A local detective told John O’Kelly SC, prosecuting, that the man offered to give the victim a lift to her sister’s home following a night out, but took a detour and pulled up in a wooded area.

He struck the woman before he tore off her clothes and raped her. He then drove her home and warned her not to tell anyone.

She reported the rape to gardaí who arrived at the man’s home the following morning to question him.

He told gardaí he had been waiting for them to call and said to them: “I raped her last night”.

The man asked officers to wait with him until his wife returned home so she could mind their young son.

When the woman arrived, he told her he had been arrested for raping the victim.

He later told gardaí in interview that he had six to seven pints of Budweiser that night. He said after pulling his car over in the woods, he tried to kiss the victim but she had said "no".

The man accepted he had hit the woman in her chest and had caught her by the throat before pulling off her jeans and underwear. He said she had been telling him to stop and to get off her.

The woman stated in her victim impact report that for the first few weeks after the rape she couldn’t leave the house because she was afraid of meeting the man.

She was afraid when in her home alone and was terrified of any noise. She said she began locking her bedroom door at night.

“It fucked my life up. I don’t feel safe in my own home,” the woman’s statement said. She added that in some ways her life will never be the same again.

She has attended counselling and “finds it extremely hard to trust people”.

Isobel Kennedy SC, defending, said her client worked as a machine operator for 16 years and is the father of two boys.

She said he has since moved back in with his parents who are well respected in their local community.

Counsel said her client has attended treatment for his drinking problem and has “deep insight, concern and regret for what he did to the victim”.

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