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Man (24) found guilty of raping 14-year-old in a field

The 24-year-old Westmeath man had pleaded not guilty to defilement of a child
The 24-year-old Westmeath man had pleaded not guilty to defilement of a child

A Westmeath man has been convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl in a field near her home.

During a 17 day trial at the Central Criminal Court the man claimed that the child had been a willing participant to the sex and had enjoyed it.

Text messages with references to sexual acts sent at the time between the child and her friends were put to the victim, now aged 18. She denied lying to the jury about her level of sexual activity at the time and denied ever performing oral sex with another named boy of her own age.

The 24-year-old Westmeath man had pleaded not guilty to defilement of a child under the age of 15 at a location in Westmeath on June 3, 2011. He has also denied raping the woman, and two counts of sexual assaulting her on the same occasion.

Today, a reduced jury of six women and five men took under two hours to return guilty verdicts on all charges. The man cannot be named to protect the anonymity of the victim.

Mr Justice Carroll Moran remanded him in continuing custody until Friday next (August 7) for a full sentence hearing.

The woman testified during the trial that she met the man on the road as she was walking from her home to her friend's house. She knew him from around and he persuaded her to go into a field with him where he then raped her, she said.

When arrested the man initially denied knowing the victim or ever having met her. His semen was later found on her underwear but he continued to tell gardai he didn't know her.

At trial he alleged, through his lawyers, that the sex was consensual and that the girl was moaning and telling him to go harder. She repeatedly denied these suggestions during two and a half days of cross-examination.

She also denied lying to the jury over her sexual activity at the time.
 
Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, put evidence to her of text messages from 2011 referring to her giving blowjobs.

She denied that she had carried out the acts, saying “It looks like that but I didn’t do it. Maybe I was trying to act cool to my friends at the time and I was silly and stupid.”

Pauline Walley SC, prosecuting, told the jury that these messages were part of the “unreality of social media”.

She said: “You should bear in mind that human beings have always lied about sexual experience. In my days the lies were about what boys you kissed.”

In her closing speech she told the jurors that they had to decide if these text messages were “all talk” or if the complainant was lying and was sexually active.