Rape victim offered money to withdraw evidence, court hears

A Croatian prostitute who was raped by a Waterford businessman has claimed that she has been approached by two Albanian men in her home country who offered her money to withdraw her evidence.

A Croatian prostitute who was raped by a Waterford businessman has claimed that she has been approached by two Albanian men in her home country who offered her money to withdraw her evidence.

Mr Justice Barry White was told of the sensational development by prosecuting counsel, Mr Gerard Clarke SC (with Mr Michael Delaney BL), at the Central Criminal Court where he had been due to impose sentence.

Billy Keogh (aged 46), a married man and father of six of Wilder, Kilmeaden was convicted by a jury in February of raping the 26-year-old woman in an upmarket hotel after hiring her by phone from the Cork-based Red Velvets Escorts Agency.

Mr Clarke told Mr Justice White that "a very serious matter" had come to his attention since the last hearing when the court was told that Keogh was offering compensation to the victim.

Mr Clarke said that Detective Sergeant David Walsh spoke to the woman since the last hearing while the Albanians were actually with her and she told him about their approach to her.

He said the woman had also indicated she was not interested in "voluntarily accepting" the compensation offer made by Keogh.

She told Det Sgt Walsh she had started a new regular paid job and felt she could not take time off to travel back to Dublin for the sentence hearing and was happy that it could go ahead in her absence.

Defence counsel, Mr Hugh Hartnett SC (with Mr Philipp Rhan BL), described the information about the Albanians as "hearsay evidence".

Mr Justice White said he would not be prepared to deal with the matter on the basis of hearsay evidence but would listen to direct evidence about it from the victim. He adjourned the case to a later date.

Mr Hartnett also said that Keogh was anxious that a probation report outlining his family circumstances would be available for the court.

Mr Clarke told Mr Justice White that the reason gardaí had difficulty contacting the woman before the last hearing was that she had lost her mobile phone. Contact had been made with her since then through the Croatian police with the help of Interpol.

No specific amount of compensation was mentioned in court at the previous hearing during which the State had also opposed the defence application for an adjournment of sentence

Keogh was found guilty of raping the woman who claimed he told her he was a garda and that he also threatened to throw her out of the hotel window.

The jury of six men and six women also found him not guilty of stealing €1,200 cash from her on the same occasion, on May 21, 2006.

Keogh denied both charges during his six-day trial. The jury returned its 10-2 majority guilty verdict that he raped her following about six hours deliberation and after spending one night in a hotel.

He told gardaí when he was arrested that he was "a respectable Waterford businessman" and had been using the Red Velvets Escorts Agency for two years to have paid sex with prostitutes assigned by it.

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