The Court of Criminal Appeal has today refused a forty-nine-year-old man leave to appeal against his conviction for the rape and sexual of his daughter over a nine-year period.
In November last year the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty to 72 counts of rape, oral rape and sexual assault of his daughter at her mother’s home and other locations between June 17, 1991 and June 30, 2000.
During the trial at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul Carney directed the jury to return not guilty verdicts on 40 counts following legal argument.
The jury later returned a verdict of guilty on one count of oral rape, on one of sexual assault and on 20 counts of rape after seven hours of deliberation.
They further acquitted the man of two counts of sexual assault and disagreed on six counts of rape and two of sexual assault against the now 26-year-old complainant.
Counsel for the defence, Mr Peter Finlay SC, asked the three judge-court how “any reasonable jury” could safely return guilty verdicts on 22 counts given inconsistencies in evidence furnished by the complainant at the original trial.
Expanding on written submissions before the court, Mr Finlay also said that the trial judge had erred in not issuing a corroboration warning to the jury and that there were concerns with the timeframe of the counts on the indictment.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, sitting with Mr Justice Michael Hanna and Mr Justice Roderick Murphy, said that the court found that each of the grounds had failed and accordingly refused leave to appeal the conviction.
In today’s submissions, Mr Finlay said that the complainant had given direct evidence that she could not remember full sexual intercourse taking place at one house and could remember only sexual assaults taking place there.
He said this had contradicted the prosecution case, which contended that a number of counts of rape on the indictment had taken place at this address.
Mr Finlay told the court that the complainant had also given evidence that her father began raping her after she started secondary school in September 1996, while on the indictment the offence was listed as having occurred between July and December 1996.
Mr Finlay told the court that the alleged offence could therefore not have taken place in July or August 1996 and asked why the charge listed on the indictment did not reflect the evidence as given by the complainant.
He also submitted that there was no independent evidence as to the veracity of the complainant’s claims and that Mr Justice Carney had erred when he did not issue a warning to the jury reflecting this lack of corroborating testimony.
Counsel for the State, Mr Conor Devally SC, said that the defence was “cherry-picking” testimony and that the trial transcript did not accurately reflect the atmosphere in the court room on the day the complainant gave her evidence.
Mr Devally contended that when the complainant had said that she could not remember rapes taking place at one particular house, she in fact had become confused and was answering a previous question in relation to rapes having occurred in one particular room of the house in question.
He said that when the transcript was viewed as a whole and in context all evidence pointed toward rapes having occurred at the house in question.
Mr Devally said that the complainant’s mother had given evidence as to having confronted the man over the abuse of his daughter, and having witnessed him apologise for the abuse.
He said that as this was independent corroborating evidence, emitted from a source other than the complainant, there was no mandatory requirement for a corroboration warning to be put to the jury.