By Isabel Hayes
A man who repeatedly raped his wife during their lengthy marriage “under the guise of Catholic entitlements” has been jailed for nine and a half years.
The 57-year-old Dublin man, who can’t be named to protect the identity of his former wife, was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury of five counts of raping her in the family home and a holiday home on dates in 2006 and 2018.
He was acquitted of three further counts of rape, while the jury in the trial last June was unable to agree on a ninth count. The couple were married for nearly 20 years.
Sentencing the man this week, Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring said the man had engaged in a fundamental breach of trust and a breach of his wife’s bodily integrity in her own home and in the marital bed. The court heard the couple’s children were in the house at the time of the rapes and on some occasions, a baby was present in the bedroom.
“For centuries, the rape of women in marriage was not seen as a criminal offence,” the judge said. “The vows were seen to include the right of the man to have sex whenever, with or without her consent.
“The jury verdicts in this case confirms such a view is no longer held in the community. Consent is as essential in marriage as it is in any other occasion.”
In her victim impact statement which she read out at an earlier hearing, the woman said her husband had “acknowledged nothing” and has “denied all wrongdoing on his part”. The man maintains his innocence and does not accept the guilty verdicts of the jury, the court heard.
The woman said that in the course of their marriage, the man had “power and control”. “He had it and I didn’t,” she said.
“This was not a stranger in the street who raped me. It was a person I loved and trusted more than anyone else in the world,” she told the court. “I was completely under his control as a wife and mother.”
She said he abused her under the “guise of Catholic entitlements” and would tell her “good girl” after raping her. She said he left her “isolated” and feeling worthless, with his anger and aggression escalating when she prioritised their children’s needs over him.
The woman said she is now a survivor who deserves to be heard. She paid tribute to her children, who she said have shown great resilience in the intervening years. “There is healing in their laughter.”
The court heard that in 2018, the woman confided in a friend about her husband’s treatment of her, and her friend told her this was rape. She left the marital home shortly afterwards and went to gardaí.
Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, prosecuting, said the Director of Public Prosecutions placed the offending in the more serious category.
Ms Justice Ring noted that the rape counts were 12 years apart, with the jury acquitting the man of other counts during the marriage. She noted that there were also “good times” in the 20 years or so that the couple were together.
She said there was no suggestion the couple’s children were not loved and cherished by the man, and that he involved himself in their lives and in the community.
The judge set a headline sentence of 12 and a half years. She took into account a number of mitigating factors including the man’s previous good record and lack of previous convictions.
She handed down a sentence of 11 years and suspended the final 18 months on a number of conditions, including that he have no contact with his former wife for a period of five years after his release.
Dara Foynes SC, defending, said the man was a “good provider” with an “unblemished record”. She handed in what she said were “glowing” testimonials about him. She said he has lost his children, which has been devastating for him.
The court heard the man is in a new relationship and his partner was in court to support him.
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