A convicted Carlow rapist who was extradited from the USA in August has today been jailed for seven years by Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court.
Michael Christian Moran (aged 29), of Woodgrove, Tullow Road, absconded to the USA six years ago just before he was due to be sentenced for raping a then 27-year-old woman in a residential area of the town as she walked home from a hen-party on July 18, 1999.
While living in Boston he successfully started a roofing business and had relationships with two women who gave character evidence on his behalf.
He is the father of a five-month old son by one of the women and was arrested sometime after it was broadcast on radio and television in Boston that the FBI were looking for him.
Moran originally denied the rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment of the woman but then pleaded guilty on July 24, 2001 to the crime on day-two his trial following legal argument in the absence of the jury.
Mr Justice Carney who directed that Moran be registered as a sex offender and to undergo five years post release supervision said: "The saddest thing from his point of view is that if he had not gone on the run this case would be over for him by now."
Mr Justice Carney described Moran's comment in his evidence that he had hoped his victim would have got on with her life as "beneath contempt".
He said that his guilty plea had been negated "by the continuing effect" the rape had on his victim whose impact evidence he said he had found very helpful.
He said it must have been very difficult for the victim to hear that Moran had become a successful businessman in the USA while she continued to suffer from his crime without closure to the case.
Mr Justice Carney also directed that the transcripts of all the hearings in this case should be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions so that an investigation could be carried out "as to whether or not this court was misled in evidence given to it concerning his whereabouts".
Moran agreed with his defence counsel, Mr John O'Kelly SC (with Mr Colman Cody BL) that while in the USA he had telephone contacts with his family in Carlow. He said he phoned them from call boxes.
His current partner and the mother of his son as well as her two-year old daughter by another man has been residing at his family home since his extradition from Boston at the end of August.
Mr Justice Carney had indicated in November 2001 that he would consider a suspended sentence after being informed by Moran's mother that her son had been threatened in a letter which purported to come from by inmates of Arbour Hill Prison saying they were "looking forward" to his arrival.
Mrs Phyllis Moran pleaded with Mr Justice Carney in a letter to consider imposing a suspended sentence on her son on condition he continued with his counselling for the rest of his life.
Mr Justice Carney said at the time that if Moran turned up in court he would accommodate his mother's wishes if he was convinced of the truth about the letter but noted at today's hearing that he hadn't yet seen this letter.
Detective Garda Frank Stevenson told prosecuting counsel, Mr Sean Gillane BL, that the victim was attacked from behind by Moran while she walked home.
She called out for help when he raped her and Moran told a woman who came to her assistance that he was the victim's boyfriend but ran off before gardaí got to the scene.
Det Gda Stevenson said a public appeal was made for help and information received from people who had seen Moran running with mud on his jeans led to his arrest.
Moran told gardaí he couldn't recall raping the victim and had only intended touching her. He said that his own reaction when he saw the dirt stains on his jeans was: "I knew I had done something and that my worst nightmare was going to come true."
The victim said at the start of her impact statement that when Mr Justice Carney told her at the last hearing in 2001 that she should give such a statement but at the time she didn't want to.
Mr Justice Carney interrupted to tell her that making a victim impact statement was "entirely voluntary" and the woman agreed she was now making it voluntarily.
She said it made her "feel sick to my stomach" that she had to live with the situation without closure as a result of Moran absconding but that "if he hears from me he might feel some remorse" for what he had put her and her family through.
"I was shocked at what happened, shocked at having to give a statement to the gardaí, shocked at having to hand over my clothes and having to go through a medical examination," she said.
She said she woke up the following day at home "black and blue with bite marks all over me" but had learned to cope because she had to learn. Giving evidence in the trial was "the hardest thing I ever had to do; if he was sorry why did he put me through this?".
She said she had hoped at the scheduled 2001 sentence date that it would all be over but Moran had gone to USA the night before and every time the case was called "I had to live it all over again."
The victim said she still couldn't go out and relax because "everyone in the town knows it happened to me and feel sorry for me but I didn't want this".
Moran's partner said he told her about the rape case before they moved in together three years ago. He was kind and gentle to her and always treated her daughter like he was the father. She said he was "always hardworking" but though dedicated to work he was also a family man.
Ms Jennifer Shaw told Mr O'Kelly that Moran never gave her any indication of violence and she knew him as "gentle and loving". He had a very serious alcohol problem when she first met him but he had conquered this and was dry for three years.
Ms Shaw said she discovered his past after about 18 months together and she had had to struggle with that thought it was not easy. "The person I knew bears no relationship to that crime."
Ms Shaw said their relationship continued through it was hard and "it is still hard this day to get my head around what he did" but while they broke up in June 2006 they remained friends and he remained close to both her mother and her now deceased grandmother.
Ms Shaw told Mr Justice Carney that she had no contact with Moran's family while they were in a relationship.
Moran said in evidence that he felt "immense shame and sorrow" for his crime. "I will always be tormented by what I did and hope today will bring closure."
He said he absconded because he felt threatened for his life and would now find it "extremely distressing to consider life without my children".
"I am fighting hard against depression and I'm truly and deeply sorry for my victim," he said.