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Man accused of raping friend told gardai he was sleepwalking

NewsBy Sunday World
Man accused of raping friend told gardai he was sleepwalking

A man accused of raping a friend eight years ago told gardaí he was “sleepwalking” at the time of the alleged offence and wasn't aware of what he was doing, a trial has heard.

The question of whether the man was sleep-walking or not will be central to the case, the jury was told on the first day of the man's trial today at the Central Criminal Court.

The man (29) who cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty to one count of raping the woman at an apartment in Dublin in the early hours of September 28, 2008.

He is alleged to have later admitted to the woman that he raped he. She told the trial he told her he thought he might have been sleepwalking and that he had touched a friend's girlfriend and kissed the woman's sister while sleepwalking in the past.

In his opening address, Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, told the jury of eight men and four women that the man, then aged 21, and the woman, then 22, were platonic former university friends who arranged to travel to Dublin to attend an event.

“Before they took the bus trip to Dublin, the accused and the complainant had dinner at the accused's family home which was cooked by the accused's mother,” Mr McGrath said.

The pair then bought whiskey and gin for the bus trip and travelled to their friends' apartment in Dublin. While there, they had more drinks before going to Copper Face Jacks nightclub.

The pair originally thought they would be sleeping on the floor of their friends' apartment, but instead shared a bed in a free bedroom. The woman was fully-dressed, while the man was wearing boxer shorts and a t-shirt, Mr McGrath said.

“She fell asleep and the next thing she will indicate is that she woke up and found the accused on top of her with his penis in her,” Mr McGrath said. “She told him to stop.”

The woman's pencil skirt had been pushed up and her underwear had been pushed to one side, the court heard. She left the bedroom, went to the bathroom and cried.

Mr McGrath said the accused was interviewed by gardaí the following year, during which he said he had no memory of what happened and only a “vague memory” of being asked about a condom, Mr McGrath said.

“[You will hear] the accused say in interview in broad terms that he has no recollection, that he was effectively sleep-walking, experiencing some form of sleepwalking, that he wasn't doing anything consciously,” Mr McGrath said.

“The accused is saying he didn't consciously or wilfully initiate or have sexual relations or sexual intercourse with [the woman].

“[He told gardaí] he was suffering from some form of sleepwalking, wasn't conscious, wasn't aware of what he was doing. This will be a matter which may be central to the case.”

The woman took the stand and cried as she told the trial she fell asleep before waking up because “something felt really wrong and disgusting”.

She said the man's penis was inside her and he “just kept thrusting”. “I said, 'What are you doing. Stop. Do you even have a condom on?'” she said, to which he replied, “Oh no...but to be honest I'm a long way from that anyway.”

She said he was still inside her and was saying she could get the morning after pill, at which point she pushed him off her. She said he then said 'I'm sorry'.

The woman said that after the alleged rape she went and lay on the bathroom floor and cried before leaving the apartment. She said the man was sitting up awake when she walked out.

The trial heard the woman was helped by a stranger, who took her to her apartment while she waited for her sister to collect her and bring her home. The court heard the woman told her sister what had happened and also her mother. She said the man kept ringing and texting her and she eventually met him two days later.

“I said to him, 'You raped me. He said, 'I know, I'm so sorry,” the woman said. The man then told her he thought he might have been sleepwalking and that he had touched a friend's girlfriend and kissed the woman's sister while sleepwalking in the past.

She said she wouldn't go to the gardaí but that he need to get help. He agreed to go to the rape crisis centre, the trial heard.

The woman said she suffered from panic attacks in the wake of the alleged incident and went to counselling. “It was just hard to come to terms with the fact that he had raped me and to say that about a friend,” she said.

She said it “meant a lot” that he admitted what he had done. However, she said she eventually went to gardaí because they could “deal with it properly”.

The trial continues before Justice Patrick McCarthy.

By Isabel Hayes