Man who fled Ireland sentenced for rape

A convicted rapist and kidnapper who left the country during his Central Criminal Court trial in 2007 has been sentenced to twelve years with the final four years suspended.

Virginijus Bagdonas, 44, a Lithuanian with a previous address at Whitehalls, Oldcastle, Co Meath was convicted in his absence in December 2007 after the judge ordered the trial to continue without him.

Bagdonas was arrested at Manchester Airport on November 29 last on foot of a European Arrest Warrant and extradited to Ireland for sentencing.

He had pleaded not guilty to raping the woman during the night of March 11, 2006. He also denied falsely imprisoning her and threatening to kill her on the same date at two separate locations in Counties Cavan and Meath.

Mr Justice Barry White told Bagdonas that the sole reason this was happening eight years after the offence was because he had absented himself from the course of his trial.

He said that every step had been taken by the court to ensure that the trial should go on in Bagdonas's presence, but that it eventually proceeded in his absence.

The judge said that, by absenting himself, Bagdonas had limited his counsel in conducting his defence.

He also noted that Bagdonas has not accepted the verdict and is prepared to contest it.

“You have tied my hands,” said Mr Justice White.

He added that the victim, an economic migrant and mother-of-one, is still suffering the consequences of the ordeal she was put through.

In her victim impact report, which was read out in court, the woman said she was ashamed, frightened and humiliated after the event and that to this day she is very nervous and does not sleep well.

Her relationship with her husband broke down and they are now divorced.

She remains very afraid to go to the toilet as she is scared of being locked in and is more withdrawn in social events.

During the trial, the victim gave evidence that she agreed to accompany Bagdonas to a party because he said he wanted to apologise to her for weeks of harassing phone calls.

He claimed that her friends would be there but she found she knew nobody. Bagdonas later offered to drive her home but after a short distance she realised they were going the wrong way.

He told her he was taking a short cut and as she didn’t know the area she didn’t argue. He drove to a Cavan lake, told her he was going to have sex with her and threatened to kill her.

He raped her in the car and then brought her to his house in Oldcastle where he locked his bedroom door and forced her to undress and get into his bed.

When he fell asleep, she escaped out a window and met a garda nearby.

Bagdonas later claimed they had consensual sex and that she stole his rent money before leaving his house.

When Bagdonas failed to appear for the second day of his trial, he texted his solicitor claiming to have had some sort of incident with his car.

Gardaí checked local hospitals but could find no sign of him. Prosecuting counsel Gerard Clarke SC said that by the end of the day it had become apparent he had absconded.

Mr Justice White ordered that the trial continue without the accused. He said he did this because the then 24-year-old woman had concluded her evidence and was coming towards the end of her cross-examination and to stop the trial at that point would have been unfair to her.

Mr Justice White backdated the sentence to Nov 29, 2013 and ordered that Bagdonas be placed on the sex offenders' register.

Paul Greene SC, defending, said his client has a medical condition that will require attention while he is in custody.

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