20-year-old man found not guilty of raping nine-year-old girl in 2018 in Co Kilkenny
Jury returned verdict of not guilty on all ten counts after two hours of deliberations
by Eoghan Dalton
A man has been found not guilty of the rape and sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl in Co Kilkenny.The 20-year-old was accused of 10 separate charges which he had denied in the week-long trial. They were alleged to have occurred at two houses in Co Kilkenny in the summer of 2018. The jury returned its verdict today (Friday) after just under two hours of deliberations.
There had been focus on the reliability of the young girl – Justice Eileen Creedon told the jury she was applying a “corroboration warning”, due to what she described as a “significant lack of detail” provided by the girl while she was under cross examination.
She said this means it would be dangerous to convict the man in these circumstances but added that the jury should still consider that it does not mean the girl was not telling the truth.
While the prosecution had put forward that the girl had “suppressed her memories” of the alleged abuse, the defence maintained that the girl had “made up” the claims in a bid for her mother’s attention following upheaval in the home.
Senior counsel Colman Cody said he “did not want to criticise” the complainant, adding that “it’s a feature” of children at that age that they may fabricate issues.
“She wasn’t getting the attention she thought she should, ” he said, “They [her claims] simply aren’t credible.”
The court previously heard that the accused and the girl were visiting an older person in the community who knew both their families – they would routinely visit this house to say the rosary and have dinner. This house was one of the two locations in Co Kilkenny where the acts are alleged to have occurred. The girl also claims that the accused had rubbed himself against her. The allegations came to light after the girl told her mother in November 2018. The girl’s mother then contacted Tulsa the Child and Family Agency and social workers became involved. A Garda investigation was launched and the girl’s mother gave Gardaí permission for her daughter to be spoken to by specialist Garda interviewers. Six counts of rape are alleged to have taken place outside a household in a rural area. The accused also denied two other charges of sexually assaulting the girl in the sitting room of a house and at another residence. Two further charges relate to an allegation that he invited the girl to touch his penis with her hand in the bedroom of a home. The offences took place across a range of dates unknown in June, July and August in 2018. Neither party can be named for legal reasons. Closing the State’s case on Thursday, senior counsel Roisin Lacey told the jury it had been a short trial and acknowledged they had not spent much time in the courtroom due to legal argument between the opposing sides. She rejected claims by the defence during cross-examination that she had “made up” the claims in a bid for attention from her mother. Ms Lacey said the girl was previously clear about her claims when she first came forward, four years ago, in a Garda interview conducted which broadcast to the court. However, partly due to the passage of time, she had become “less effusive” giving fewer details when addressing the court via video link this week. Ms Lacey said this could be attributed to adolescents becoming increasingly reluctant as they age, so that acquiring answers “becomes like pulling teeth”, particularly as the girl – now 13 – was being questioned about sexual matters in a courtroom. She added that while the girl told defence barrister Colman Cody several times she did not know what happened and seemed unsure at points, she also “did not retract” any of her previous claims. “Is she a child who simply tries not to remember the exact details,” she asked, adding that the girl may have “pushed them to the back of her head” in more recent years. The defence also pointed to the girl’s false recollections of a car collision in Co Waterford while with her mother as a way of showing she was unreliable. Ms Lacey said this was a “red-herring” tactic and focused on the girl’s past suffering of sexual abuse at the hands of an older relative – an entirely different man. The court heard the girl has now suppressed this memory and does not recall any of the abuse, but accepts it did happen. Ms Lacey said the defence had attempted to portray the girl as a “fantasist” but that this did not apply to earlier confirmed sexual abuse she had suffered. Evidence provided by a doctor specialising in sexual abuse showed there were no lacerations on the girl’s private parts. The doctor added that this “does not preclude the possibility of anal penetration”.