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Rape victim watches as attacker weeps in court and asks for conviction to be quashed

John Giltrap was found guilty on 20 of the charges and he was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment on each count
Giltrap raped the girl from the age of 10 to 15

Giltrap raped the girl from the age of 10 to 15

Peter Doyle  

A woman who was raped 20 times by her sister’s partner when she was a schoolgirl was in court today as her attacker wept and asked for his conviction to be quashed.

John Giltrap (61), of Termonbarry, Hospital Hill, Bunclody, Co Wexford, had pleaded not guilty to 22 counts of raping Caroline Kavanagh at various locations in Bunclody between December 1978 and March 1982.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court in Kilkenny last December, however, found him guilty on 20 of the charges and he was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment on each count by Mr Justice Michael McGrath, with the judge ordering the terms to run concurrently.

Ms Kavanagh was aged between 10 and 15 when the offences took place.

Giltrap has appealed the conviction on the grounds that the verdict of the jury following the eight-day trial was “perverse” and was “contrary to the weight of evidence”.

Today, his victim, now aged 52, sat at the rear of the Court of Appeal with friends and watched Giltrap loudly sob as his barrister, Damien Colgan SC, explained to the three-judge court that the appellant had been in a relationship with the complainant’s sister at the time of the offences.

The couple had moved into a caravan situated at the rear of the complainant’s family home in Ryland’s Lawn, Bunclody.

The caravan was later relocated to a nearby public area known as “the Green”, in Craigbawn.

In submissions from Giltrap’s lawyers, it was stated that in her testimony Ms Kavanagh said the rapes happened “nearly everyday and sometimes twice day” in either the house or caravan.

Giltrap claimed that this wasn’t possible because at the time of the offending he was “either at work or coming home from work”, and that his mother-in-law’s evidence supported his story.

Questioning why Ms Kavanagh never once complained about Giltrap to either her mother, her friends, or medical professionals during the period she said the rapes had taken place, Mr Colgan told the three-judge court that Ms Kavanagh’s evidence had lacked corroboration.

“The house was small, the caravan was small,” he said.

Mr Colgan also highlighted the fact that Ms Kavanagh had failed to mention the attacks continued in the caravan after it was relocated to ‘the Green’ until her third interview with gardai investigating her complaints.

Noting that his client had been acquitted of two counts of rape on the indictment, Mr Colgan said the jury had “speculated” when it convicted him on the other counts.

Fiona Murphy SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the jury had carefully considered the evidence before them before returning the guilty verdict.

In her submissions to the court, Ms Murphy stated that Ms Kavanagh “gave very clear, cogent and compelling evidence” that Giltrap had raped her “on a very regular basis” when she was still a child.

Ms Murphy stated the jury had been in the best position to “adjudicate on this issue having had the benefit of seeing, hearing and observing the demeanour” of Ms Kavanagh during the trial.

Counsel added the complainant had been embarrassed by the situation where her sister was living in a caravan located in a public space and that was why she failed to mention at first the rapes which had taken place on the Green to gardai.

“It was immaterial whether the verdict pertained to Ryland’s Lawn or the Green in Craigbawn,” Ms Murphy noted.

Ms Murphy also told the court the complainant wanted to waive her right not to be named during proceedings.

Responding, Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham said that was a matter for Ms Kavanagh.

Judgment has been reserved.

Ms Kavanagh declined to comment as she left the court.

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