Two Wexford men who raped a Waterford mother at her home while restraining her with a rope around her neck have been jailed for 14 years by Mr Justice George Bermingham at the Central Criminal Court.
John Connors (aged 26) and Patrick Moorehouse (aged 22), both with addresses at Esmonde Road, Enniscorthy were convicted by a jury in December last, following an eight-day trial.
The jury of seven men and five women took just under four hours to unanimously find them guilty of raping the victim on August 31, 2006. Connors was acquitted by the jury on other rape and anal rape. charges
Both married men denied the charges and claimed to probation officers that the sexual activity was by consent.
Mr Justice Bermingham said the jury had approached its task in a most consciencous manner and returned guilty verdicts where there was evidence to support that and not guilty verdicts in other cases.
He noted that it had been stated before by other judges that there were "no limits to depravity" and the circumstances of this offence were "really most shocking". It was carried out by two men in the victim's own home where she should have been safe.
"I have looked for mitigation and have found it hard to find any. There were no guilty pleas and no expression of remorse or contrition and I'm bound by the jury verdict in pronouncing sentence."
Mr Justice Bermingham said they were entitled to plead not guilty and to reject the jury verdict and couldn't be punished for that. Both came before the court with no relevant previous convictions and neither gave evidence at the trial so didn't perjure themselves.
He felt it wasn't proper to differentiate between them, even on the grounds of one being younger than the other, and because their extended families lived in rural areas.
Mr Justice Bermingham said their crimes were at the higher end of the scale for sentence and merited a term of 14 years. He directed that they also underwent 10 years post release supervision and that both be registered as sex offenders. He refused leave to appeal.
Mr Ciaran O'Loughlin SC (with Mr Garnet Orange BL), for Connors, and Mr John Phelan SC (with Mr Laurence Masterson BL), for Moorehouse, had earlier submitted that both men maintained the sexual activity was consensual and this limited what they could say in mitigation.
Detective Garda John Shorthall told prosecuting counsel, Ms Cathleen Noctor BL (with Mr Thomas Creed SC), that the woman ceased to put up any resistance when Connors put the rope around her neck and didn't put up a fight against them because of concern for her child.
The woman said in a victim impact statement made to Garda Edel Fitzgerald that the day she was raped "was the worst day of my life" as she didn't know if they were going to strangle her with the rope and couldn't understand why they used it when she wasn't putting up a fight.
"There were two men with a rope around my neck and I didn't know if I was ever going to make it out of that room alive. Part of me thought I was going to die and just be left there."
She was being raped by two men and they were disgusting. She said that because she couldn't fight them, she could only lie there and pray it would be over soon.
"It felt like forever and I kept closing eyes, hoping it wasn't real." She said that afterwards she tried to pretend to herself that it never happened and it took a long time for her to put her mind at ease
The victim said her ordeal "was one of the worst example of human nature". She said she never went back to live in that apartment and this had caused her a lot a problems. Her confidence and trust in people had suffered and she still had nightmares about what Connors and Moorehouse did to her.
"None of the physical pain I suffered was as bad as the pain I felt inside."
Det Gda Shorthall told Ms Noctor that Moorehouse had no previous convictions. He was arrested in March 2007 in County Meath and taken to Waterford and denied when interviewed that he had been in the Waterford for over a year around the time of the rape.
Connors, a father of two young sons, had 24 previous convictions, all of a minor nature relating to road traffic, public order and street trading matters. He was arrested in May 2007, after meeting gardaí by appointment.
DNA samples were taken from both men and these matched DNA taken at the scene of the crime. They were both arrested again later and charged.