A man has been convicted of sexually assaulting a woman who had come to Ireland seeking asylum.
The 54-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape, one of sexual assault and one of attempted rape of the woman in his Dublin home on various occasions over the weekend of December 1 to December 3, 2017.
The jury told Mr Justice Alex Owens, following eight and half hours deliberation on day-10 of the trial at the Central Criminal Court, that they could reach a majority verdict on one count but they were deadlocked in relation to the other four counts.
Mr Justice Owens took the verdict and discharged the jury. He thanked the jury for its service and wished the jurors well.
He remanded the man in custody and revoked his bail before he adjourned sentencing to July 12, 2021.
The judge ordered a victim impact statement and a report from the Probation Service to address post release supervision before he certified the man as a sex offender.
The trial heard that after his arrest the man told gardai that he had never heard that a husband and a wife can have a rape allegation between them. He said to him rape cases involve someone getting kidnapped and then raped.
A witness from a mosque in Dublin said that after the complainant told her what had happened she confronted the defendant and asked him “why did you rape her?”
She said the defendant said he didn't and that “you cannot rape inside marriage”. She said she told the man “you are in a different country now and there are different laws here” and told him that you can rape within marriage.
That same witness told the court that the complainant told her she and the accused had some form of a ceremony performed in a mosque and the complainant asked her advice as to if this meant they were now married.
The witness said she advised the woman to get an affidavit from the accused proving that it was a legally binding marriage.
She said she did this for the complainant’s own “self-preservation for her family back home”.
“If she was seen to have had any sexual intercourse outside of marriage it could be disastrous for her, potentially very dangerous and life threatening,” the witness told the jury.
She confirmed that “sexual intercourse outside of marriage is forbidden in Islamic culture”.
SUMMARY OF THE TRIAL
The trial heard that during a visit to Ireland in November 2017 the 36-year-old woman sought asylum in Ireland to avoid an arranged marriage in her native country.
The complainant testified that after a ceremony took place between her and the accused, the man took her back to his flat and raped her a number of times over the course of three days.
She travelled to Dublin to file an application with the International Protection Office (IPO). She was told about a particular centre who could help her and a contact in this centre then told her about a mosque in Dublin.
She said she became aware that there was a service that was provided to the Muslim community where they could arrange meetings between people who were interested in getting married. She was introduced to the accused through this mosque and they met a number of times.
The woman, who gave her evidence via video link, told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that following the ceremony at the mosque she travelled back with the man to his home and once inside he tried to kiss her and told her “you are my wife” and she told him she wasn't.
She said he then pushed her into a bedroom and was trying to take her clothes off.
She said she was crying and asking him to stop and trying to push him away and he eventually stopped and left the room. He later went to collect his daughter and when he came back the three of them ate a meal in his flat.
The defendant left again with his daughter and in text messages he asked why he couldn't touch her and she said “because we aren't married yet”, she testified. She said he asked if I was his wife and I said no.
When the defendant returned home later he was alone and he again began touching the woman, she said. She said she was crying and asking him to stop and trying to hold her legs firmly together.
“He sat with his whole body on top of me. I don't know how, he took off my pyjamas and underwear and opened his trousers and put his penis inside my vagina,” she said.
The complainant became visibly upset for a number of minutes before telling Mr Gillane “I was crying and asking him to stop. He didn't stop”. She said he told her to “shut up”.
She said after this the man left the flat and returned with his daughter. She said she felt safer because of the child's presence and she went to bed.
She said the next morning the man came into the room where she was sleeping and began taking her clothes off again. She said she began crying again and the accused put a pillow on her face so she found it difficult to breathe.
She said the defendant told her “don't do anything, my child is sleeping” and told her to “shut up, don't make any noises”.
“He was holding my legs very tight and the pillow was on my face with him pushing me,” she said. The witness became upset as she told the jury that the defendant was trying to put his penis inside her again.
The jury heard the memo of the accused’s interview with gardaí in which he denied the woman’s allegations when they were put to him and said she was telling “lies”.
He said they had taken part in a ceremony called Nikah which he said is “a freedom to have a sexual relationship with a blessing from the mosque” but not a legally binding marriage.
He said that over the course of that weekend he and the complainant had sex a number of times and claimed that on occasion the complainant instigated it.
He told gardaí that the woman told him she came to Ireland because the immigration laws here were weak. He suggested that the reason she said he had raped her was because it would mean she could stay in Ireland while it was being investigated.
The man told gardaí that when he was first introduced to the woman, he said she said she wanted marriage and babies and claimed that she proposed to him. He said he told her his divorce had not come through so he could not marry her.
During interviews with gardaí the man said he had never heard that a husband and a wife can have a rape allegation between them. He said to him rape cases involve someone getting kidnapped and then raped.
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