A Laois man who raped and brutally beat his wife in their marital bed after she declined to hold his hand has been jailed for five years.
Sentencing the man to seven years in prison with the final two years suspended, Mr Justice Paul Butler said it was a "tragic case", which had left a family destroyed.
“The family relationships of the brave victim have been completely destroyed,” Mr Butler told the Central Criminal Court today.
The man's sentence hearing earlier this month heard that his two adult sons supported him and had written letters of testimonial describing him as a good father.
The victim, who was not in court for the sentence, previously gave an emotional victim impact statement in which she said that more than just her marriage died that night.
“I feel like a ghost,” she said. “The attack on me in my own bed was a complete shock. I couldn't breathe, move or make a sound. I was sure my life was over.”
Last October, a jury found the 45-year-old Laois man guilty of raping his wife of on January 8, 2015. He had already pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to her by punching her repeatedly in the face prior to raping her.
The man, who can not be named for legal reasons, does not accept the rape guilty verdict.
The court previously heard that during the attack, the woman started screaming, “Help me God” before he told her, “No God is going to help you”.
He stuck his thumb in her mouth to stop her screaming for help from their son, leaving her unable to breathe for about one minute.
The court heard the attack was sparked by the man becoming annoyed when his wife did not hold his hand on the couch that night and told him “begging is not attractive”.
When she came to bed that night, he attacked her and told her, “That will teach you not to disrespect me. I want to hear you beg for mercy”, before saying, “Now I am going to rape you and I am going to enjoy it”.
The man told gardaí he “flipped” because the woman accused him of being “needy” and he felt she implied he didn't know how to attract women. He said he punched her five or six times to the face before making her beg for mercy.
He said he then asked her for sex and she consented and seemed to enjoy it. He also said she had previously asked him to “rape” her during consensual sex and that she never refused sex.
The woman said she was not physically forced to have sex but that she was in fear for her life. She said she never previously asked her husband to rape her.
Mr Justice Butler said the woman's victim impact statement was “very moving”. “It has had a severe impact on her life and her family relationships,” he said.
The judge also took into account the fact the man had no previous convictions and had led a “blameless life” until the incident.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said she had little memory of the rape, which was “completely overshadowed” by the assault. “I was in a state of shock at the time,” she said, adding she thought she was going to die.
“Something more than just my marriage must have died that night because I feel like a ghost,” she said, adding she has not cried since the incident.
“People who used to be close to me don't acknowledge me but I can still see them,” she said, adding she has since moved to a new home where she doesn't know anyone.
“I'm sure my emotions will return some day and I'll (find) a new identity and won't stay a ghost. I know God saved my life for a reason.”
Defence barrister, Caroline Biggs SC, told the court her client was extremely remorseful for the assault, although he maintains he did not rape his wife.
In a letter to the judge, the man said his wife was a good mother and wife who did not deserve to be assaulted. “I regret it very much,” he said.