The trial of a Westmeath man for rape has heard he told gardaí that he stopped having sex with the alleged victim “the second she asked me to stop”.
During the interview with gardaí three days after the alleged rape on the morning of New Year’s Day 2017, the man, now aged 33, told gardaí that sexual activity between him and the complainant in the living room of his home was consensual.
The man is on trial at the Central Criminal Court and denies raping the woman in his home on January 1, 2017. The jury has heard that the two met at a ball in the local GAA clubhouse and were kissing and she then went back to his rural home.
The evidence of the woman, who was not living locally, is that she felt she had no other choice but to stay with the accused because she couldn't find her friend who she had planned to stay with.
The complainant testified that she agreed to come back with the man on condition there would be no sexual activity. She said that once they got inside his home he attacked and raped her.
On day five of the trial, the jury heard evidence of the man's interviews by gardaí at Mullingar garda station.
The accused initially told gardaí that the penetrative sex was vaginal but later accepted that it could have been anal penetration. He said this followed foreplay and said: “I didn't ask her but she didn't say not to”.
The man told gardaí that after about 20 seconds of penetrative sex the woman said: “Stop stop”. He said he then stopped and she sat up and began sobbing.
He said she had told him earlier in the night that she never really goes home with guys. He said he presumed she was regretting it now and he began apologising to calm her down.
“I didn't know what to do. I apologised. I just wanted to stop her sobbing,” he said. He said he diverted the subject to talking about some other people and she calmed down.
He said they both fell asleep on different ends of a long couch and woke up there after sunrise. He said he asked her if she was ok and she told him she wasn't and she was sorry she had come back with him.
He said he apologised again “because I didn't want this” and said she then lay down beside him. He agreed with a garda suggestion that this was “weird”, adding that “she just seemed to mellow” and “she was still sorry” for coming back.
He repeatedly denied attacking or raping the woman and told gardaí “the second she asked me to stop, I stopped”.
The trial heard that the woman told gardaí that she didn't want to go back to the man's house but she got it into her head that she had no other option and told them “I thought I'd be safe”.
In reply to this statement, the man said that the woman did not tell him she didn't want to go back with him and she never said that she only wanted to go to sleep.
Asked about his intentions he replied:
He said they didn't have any discussion about sex and that the woman knew why he was asking her to go home to his.
“Yeah, she thought about it, it wasn't an impulse,” he said.
In other evidence, Garda Lorraine Connolly told the jury that she took an initial note of the woman's allegations on January 2, 2017.
Her note of this initial complaint records the woman stating that her mobile phone had died on the night and she felt she had no alternative option but to go back to the man's house to sleep.
She said that after the man pulled her clothes off she was trying to crawl away from him but he grabbed her and raped her from behind. The woman showed scrape marks on her stomach and told Gda Connolly they were from the defendant grabbing her, the court heard.
In his interviews, the man said she never told him she was having her period and that he never saw a sanitary pad in her underwear.
Gardaí put it to him that he couldn't have missed this if his “lovey-dovey” version of consensual foreplay was true. Gardaí further put it to him that he missed the sanitary pad because he had ripped off her leggings and underwear after “jumping her”.
He denied grabbing her inside the room and pushing her backwards, saying: “I wouldn’t do something like that. I'm not a violent person.”
Garda Niamh Spollen told Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that the accused is not known to gardaí and that he has no previous convictions apart from a drink-driving incident.
A former boyfriend of the woman told the jury that she rang him to tell him what had happened to her and broke down crying during the call.
She told him that during the attack she was shouting and screaming, he said.
Under cross-examination, he told Ms Biggs that the complainant's mobile phone was old and was “always dying”.
“The phone was always an issue. I’d offered to buy her a new phone but she wouldn’t accept it,” he said. He denied a suggestion that he had discussed the matter of the phone with the complainant over the previous days.
Ms Biggs has previously put it to the complainant that her female friend was ringing her on the night and the phone was “ringing out” and was therefore operational. The complainant denied this and said her phone was off and she wasn't able to contact her friend in the clubhouse.
The trial continues on Tuesday before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury.