A man who raped a sleeping woman during a Kildare house party has been jailed for five years.
Brian Byrne (28) with an address at Drumagh, Crettyard, Co Laois, went on trial in Dublin in November last year accused of one count of raping the woman at a location in Co Kildare on June 21, 2015. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Following a week long trial the jury of five women and seven men returned a verdict of guilty at the Central Criminal Court.
The week-long trial heard that on the night in question, the woman was socialising with family members in her sister's house.
A local garda told Roisin Lacey SC, prosecuting, that the woman did not invite Byrne up to the bedroom or give him any encouragement to join her. The woman got into bed fully dressed and went to sleep immediately.
The woman woke up to hearing breath behind her and felt someone raping her. She saw the accused and immediately jumped up, running into her sister's room and telling her what had happened.
In interview with gardaí, Byrne accepted sexual intercourse had taken place. During the trial he adopted the position that she was awake when he entered the room and consented to sex.
In her victim impact statement, which was read before the court by prosecuting counsel, the woman said that June 21, 2015, will “forever be etched in my heart for all the wrong reasons” as that was the day her world fell apart and her children “lost their mother”.
The woman said that physically she was there for her children but emotionally she was far away. She said that she could not eat or sleep or even function as a human, never mind as a mother or care giver.
She said she could not stand being around people or being left alone with her thoughts and feelings, leaving her “trapped”. She said she did not feel safe in her own home and her own bed was “a hateful place”.
The woman said she does not want the crime to define her, but it does. She said that after that morning her only thought was for God to take her away from this nightmare.
Paul Greene SC, defending, said his client regrets the position the woman finds herself in. He said his client is of “unblemished character” save for this offence and was in employment up until the conviction was recorded.
Mr Greene said his client plays hurling and football at a senior level, including inter county level. He asked the court to be as lenient as possible in the context of Byrne's “unusually good previous character”, his stable lifestyle and stable relationships with his partner and family.
Mr Justice Michael White said what the woman did on that night was what thousands of other people around the country were doing. He said that she was in a home she was very familiar with and would have expected security
Mr Justice White said he wanted to give her tribute and he knew this has been a terrible ordeal.
He said the offence was aggravated by the impact on the victim and “the predatory nature of the attack”. He said it was “mystifying” that a young man could perform “such a callous crime”.
Mr Justice White said he had taken into account the previous excellent character of the accused, his employment record, his age at the time and the various references provided by his family and friends.
He sentenced Byrne to five years imprisonment.