Man goes on trial for the city-centre rape of a mentally impaired woman

The man has gone on trial at Dublin Criminal Court charged with rape
The man has gone on trial at Dublin Criminal Court charged with rape

A man has gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court for raping a mentally impaired woman in his Dublin city centre flat.

The woman, who is in her twenties and has Down syndrome, was out jogging with her mother near their home when they became separated. The accused is alleged to have stopped the woman before bringing her back to his flat and raping her.

The jury was told it will hear evidence that the woman left the flat in a distressed state and returned home. Gardaí were alerted and the woman was able to pick out the accused’s apartment as she was driven around the area.

The man has pleaded not guilty to rape, sexual assault and having sex with a mentally impaired person at his Dublin flat on June 12, 2013.

Regarding the count of rape, prosecuting counsel Caroline Biggs SC told the jury of six men and women that a person cannot consent to sex if they do not have the capacity to consent.

Regarding the charge of sex with a mentally impaired person, Ms Biggs said the prosecution would have to prove that sex or attempted sex took place and that the person was mentally impaired at the time.

She said that the law states that a person is mentally impaired if they cannot live independently or protect themselves from serious exploitation.

It is a valid defence for an accused to claim he “did not know and had no reason to suspect” the person was mentally impaired, counsel said.

The court heard the accused would say that he had consensual sexual contact with the woman but maintains he did not know she was mentally impaired.

Ms Biggs told jurors that they would hear expert psychological evidence about the woman’s capacity to consent.

They would also hear expert evidence dealing with the physical characteristics of someone with Down syndrome “which are recognised around the world.”

The trial will be in legal argument until Monday when it will resume in evidence before Mr Justice Tony Hunt.

Conor Gallagher