Child rape conviction to be appealed over juror’s ‘wink’

A drama teacher who raped a student when she was around seven is to launch an appeal against his conviction because a juror was allegedly “smiling and winking” at gardaí during his trial.

Colm Smyth, defending, told a sentencing hearing he had nothing to say in mitigation because his client maintained his innocence and rejected the verdict.

However, he said an appeal was to be launched against the verdict and one of the issues would be the juror’s alleged behaviour during the trial which took place last month.

Mr Smyth added the juror was present in the Central Criminal Court yesterday for the sentencing hearing and was seen in consultation with gardaí all morning.

The 56-year-old accused had pleaded not guilty to rape and anal rape at an Offaly school on a date between 1996 and 1998. He was convicted on both counts.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan adjourned finalisation of sentencing until Friday and remanded the man on continuing bail.

The victim, who is now aged 25, began her emotional victim impact statement by quoting the poem ‘The Forge’ by Seamus Heaney. “All I know is a door into the dark”, she told the court.

She said she felt like she “was given a life sentence at the age of six”. She felt “humiliated and degraded” throughout the trial process which she found “exceptionally difficult.”

She concluded the rape had not destroyed her and that, with the help of therapy, she was slowly learning to cope.

Justin Dillon, prosecuting, told the court the accused taught a drama class in the school but was not officially a teacher there.

The victim told the trial that she was in his class and was in the hall one day, possibly to help the teacher or for extra auditions. She said the man asked her if she wanted to play a game. He told her he loved her and she was his “little angel”.

He raped her and sodomised her. She said the the pain was “unbelievable” and she thought she was going to die. She was bleeding afterwards.

She recalled hearing a brush drop and saw the caretaker had seem them. The caretaker then “went for” the accused, she said.

She said a woman saw her crying and another woman took her to the bathroom. When she came out of the bathroom, one of the women was waiting for her, she said. She recalled the woman saying: “You don’t want to tell your mammy this, you don’t want to upset her.”

The trial heard evidence from the caretaker that he saw the girl on the man’s knee. He said he saw the man zipping up his trousers. However, the caretaker denied punching the accused and breaking his glasses.

The local priest stated he received a complaint from the caretaker and took the matter to gardaí.


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