independent

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Duo fail in rape conviction appeal

WOMAN RAPED WHILE CHILD IN NEXT ROOM

TWO MEN WHO forced their way in to a woman's house and raped her while her young child was in an adjacent room have failed in their attempts to have their convictions and 14-year sentences quashed on appeal.

John Connors (28) and Patrick Moorehouse ( 25), both with addresses at Esmonde Road, Enniscorthy, were each jailed for 14 years by Mr Justice George Birmingham in February 2009 after a Central Criminal Court jury unanimously found them guilty of raping the woman at her home on August 31, 2006.

Connors was acquitted by the jury on an additional charge of rape and a charge of anal rape.

The court was told that Connors and Moorehouse forced their way into the victim's home, hit her in the face and took her to a bedroom where they raped her in turn whilst holding a rope around her neck. Evidence was heard that the men made threats against the woman and that her daughter was in an adjacent room during the ordeal. The men denied the charges and claimed that the sexual activity was consensual.

Mr Hugh Hartnett SC, for Connors, submitted that the verdict of the jury was 'perverse' as it was 'inconceivable' that a jury could have acquitted his client on two counts of rape and convicted on one. He said that this was compounded by a failure to particularise the indictment, which left the defence unable to determine on what basis a conviction had been obtained. Counsel for Moorehouse, Mr Timothy O'Leary SC, said that if the jury was not satisfied with the evidence of the complainant on the charges of rape and anal rape faced by Connors, then the verdict against Moorehouse was irrational and unsafe.

Mr Tom Creed SC, for the State, said that the two counts of rape and one count of anal rape faced by Connors and the one count of rape faced by Moorehouse were quite specific and that the sequence in which they took place was related to the jury. He said that Mr Justice Birmingham had conducted the sentence hearing in an impeccable manner and that there had been no error in principle. Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, presiding at the Court of Criminal Appeal, said that the State had made it clear to the jury the sequence in which the charges against Connors occurred.

As this had been made clear from the opening of the prosecution case, which had not varied over the course of the trial, Mr Justice Finnegan said the jury could have been under no illusion as to what they were finding Connors guilty of.

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