Online drinking contests ‘will lead to a tsunami of rape cases’

A High Court judge has warned that if internet drinking contests continue, they will result in a “tsunami” of homicide and rape prosecutions before his court.

Mr Justice Paul Carney was speaking in sentencing a 38-year-old Waterford man who, after drinking six to seven pints of beer, raped an acquaintance, having offered her a lift home from their local nightclub.

Yesterday, the man received an eight-year sentence with the final three years suspended. An 18-month post-release supervision order was also imposed and the man was registered a sex offender.

The married father of two had pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape in a wooded area outside a Waterford town on February 21, 2011. His only previous convictions were for road traffic offences.

Mr Justice Carney said it was the latest case in a long line in which young men, with no previous convictions and who are from good families, take a quantity of drink they are not used to and “end up the following morning facing responsibility for a homicide or a rape and it seems to be a lottery as to which it is going to be.

“It’s a male phenom-enon,” he said, adding that “if the current internet drinking contest takes hold, it is going to result in a tsunami of homicide and rape prosecutions coming before this court”.

Mr Justice Carney said he was taking into account the man’s early guilty plea and immediate acceptance of what he had done.

A local detective told John O’Kelly, prosecuting, that the man offered to give the victim a lift to her sister’s home following a night out but took a detour and pulled up in a wooded area.

He struck the woman before he tore off her clothes and raped her. He then drove her home and warned her not to tell anyone.

She reported the rape to gardaí who arrived at the man’s home the following morning to question him.

He told gardaí he had been waiting for them to call and said to them: “I raped her last night.”

The man asked officers to wait with him until his wife returned home so she could mind their young son.

When the woman arrived, he told her he had been arrested for raping the victim.

He later told gardaí in interview that he had drunk six to seven pints of beer that night.

The man accepted he had hit the woman in her chest and caught her by the throat before pulling off her jeans and underwear. He said she had been telling him to stop and to get off her.

In her victim impact report, the woman said that in the weeks after the rape, she couldn’t leave the house because she was afraid of meeting the man.

“It fucked my life up. I don’t feel safe in my own home,” she said. She has attended counselling and “finds it extremely hard to trust people”.

Isobel Kennedy, defending, said her client worked as a machine operator for 16 years and is the father of two boys. She said he has since moved back in with his parents who are well-respected in their local community.

Counsel said her client has attended treatment for his drinking problem and has “deep insight, concern, and regret for what he did to the victim”.


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