A Limerick farmer has been sentenced to six years in prison for raping his ex-girlfriend following a high-speed car chase with gardaí.
Eamon Roche (aged 28) of Ballymorrough, Templeglantine, Co Limerick, texted the victim hours after he raped her saying, “Sorry for being a bollocks,” the Central Criminal Court has heard.
Roche denied the sole count of rape in a rural area of Co Cork on March 21, 2015.
The complainant was in a car driven by Roche when he refused to stop for a garda patrol and embarked on a high-speed chase.
She said Roche was driving at “crazy, ridiculous” speeds and she was “roaring like a maniac” for him to stop, thinking she was going to die.
Roche drove to a lay-by and despite her repeated protests and attempts to push him off, he climbed on top of the woman and raped her.
Roche was found guilty by a jury after a trial at the Central Criminal Court last month. It was the third time the case had gone to trial; the first jury was discharged by direction and the second disagreed on a verdict.
Reading from her victim impact statement, the young woman said her confidence had been shattered by the rape and she had found it extremely hard to go through the courts three times.
“I sometimes felt like I was on trial, having to prove that what I said was the truth,” she said, thanking the jury, the gardaí and her legal team for their support.
The mother-of-one said she has suffered with her mental health, particularly with anxiety, since the rape and that she has difficulty sleeping as her mind keeps reliving the trauma.
“I find myself waking up sometimes not knowing who I am and crying for no reason,” she said.
The young woman said she found it difficult to trust people and felt “crippled” by anxiety and crowds. She had to abandon her chosen career because of the pressure of the court proceedings.
Passing sentence today, Justice Paul McDermott said it was a crime of “serious sexual violence” that had enduring consequences for the young woman who had to live with “constant reminders” of the abuse as it occurred close to her home.
The judge set a headline sentence of seven years but reduced this by a year because of mitigating factors, including letters describing Roche as a valued member of his family and community.
Mr Justice McDermott refused to allocate any suspended portion to the sentence because of Roche’s unwillingness to accept the guilty verdict, which he said was a “cause for concern”.
He ordered Roche never to contact the complainant in any way, including on electronic media or via a third party. The court heard that the victim wishes for Roche's name to be published.