Rape trial under way despite death of woman

Rape trial under way despite death of woman

A 42-year-old man went on trial today on charges of raping a 30-year-old woman even though she died a year after the alleged offences.

Alice Fawsett, prosecution senior counsel, said in her opening of the case at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork that the alleged victim died last year but previously gave information to the gardaí.

Because she is not present to give evidence and be available for cross-examination by the defence, the jury would not be able to hear any evidence of what she said, said the lawyer.

“There are rules of law [in relation to hearsay evidence]. That may be frustrating for the prosecution or the defence but that evidence will be missing,” said Ms Fawsett.

She told the jury that it would be wrong to speculate where there is a gap in the evidence.

Ms Fawsett said there would be evidence from a third party who was present in the house at the time of the alleged offences. “Mr [name of person] was there and you will hear what he said he saw. Mr [name] heard protests from the other room. He said Ms [name] was crying,” said Ms Fawsett.

She said the accused did not have to take any part in the trial and was presumed innocent. “He was interviewed by gardaí and he said there was a sexual relationship [on that day] and it was consensual and at no stage was there any threat or anything like that.”

The accused man pleaded not guilty to six charges against him, namely two counts of rape, one by sexual intercourse and a second by placing his penis in her mouth. He denies three charges of aggravated sexual assault by threat of violence. The sixth count is of production of a weapon to intimidate, namely a broken wine bottle. All charges relate to January 14, 2017.

Ms Fawsett outlined the case but stressed that this was not evidence, a point reinforced by Mr Justice Mark Hunt.

He said the parties in the case all had difficulties in life, including addiction issues.

The defendant and the deceased met on the street and went to the other man’s house, he being a friend of the accused.

The defendant and the deceased stayed that night in one room, sleeping on chairs and there was no suggestion of any sexual relationship between any of the parties.

The next night, the woman slept in the bed with the man who owned the house but by his description there was “no touchy feely” between them.

The next morning the man who lived in the house believed some of his medication was missing and he suspected the woman may have taken it.

Ms Fawsett said the defendant said she was going to have to make it up to the other man by giving him “a blow job” but he declined, and the defendant said she was going to have to give it to him (the defendant).

“There will be evidence that a broken bottle was held to her throat and she was threatened with various things being done to her. She then engaged in sexual acts in those circumstances with [the defendant],” said Ms Fawsett.

The senior counsel told the jury that submitting and agreeing to do something because of a threat is not consent.

The case continues tomorrow.

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