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Offaly farmer found not guilty of rape and sexual assault

Monday, 10th December, 2007 9:00am

Story by Tom Kelly

A Offaly farmer has been found not guilty of raping and sexually assaulting a teenager in his jeep three years ago.

The 56-year-old man had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to raping and sexually assaulting the then 16-year-old girl on April 8, 2004.

The jury reached its verdict after deliberating for about 90 minutes.

Justice Peter Charleton excused the eight men and four women from jury service for five years. It was day-five of the trail

Justice Charleton discharged the farmer from the indictment.

On Wednesday, the court heard that the defendant had denied the allegation when interviewed by gardai.

'Straight up, I did not rape that girl,' he said. 'I did not have sexual intercourse with her in the field.'

The jury also heard the complainant"s former boyfriend claim she told him the accused hadn"t raped her.

Detective Garda Declan Geraghty told prosecuting counsel, Mr Tom Creed SC, that when gardai arrested the accused at his home on April 9, 2004 he outrightly denied he had raped the complainant

They asked him whether the clothes he was wearing were the same as those he wore the previous day. He said they were and gave them to the gardai.

Det Garda Geraghty said the accused told gardai when interviewed that he thought: 'Who I was, what I am and the consequences of what might happen' when the schoolgirl was with him in his jeep

The complainant"s former boyfriend told defence counsel, Mr Colm Smyth SC, that when she contacted him on April 10, 2004 to met up at a local pub, he asked her whether the rumour he had heard about her being raped by the accused was true and she told him: 'It didn"t happen.'

Asked by Mr Creed how well did he know the family of the accused, he replied: 'I get work from them.'

He said he met the accused"s son one day and 'the charges against his father came up in conversation' while they worked on a machine that had broken down.

'He asked me did I know what happened. He said that my name was mentioned in the case. He said that his father"s solicitors would contact me.'

He said the accused"s solicitors contacted him 'a year ago to make a statement'.

Asked by Mr Creed, whether his relationship with the complainant had continued after their meeting on April 10, 2004, he replied: 'I didn"t see her after that.'

On Tuesday of last week, the teenage Offaly woman was accused of alleging the farmer had raped her to get compensation from him.

The allegation was made by defence counsel, Mr Colm Smyth SC, during her cross-examination on the second day of the farmer"s trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Smyth said he had a letter from her solicitor dated March 21, 2006, which stated that proceedings would be instituted in the High Court for assault and battery, sexual abuse and trespass of the body unless compensation was forthcoming from the accused.

The now 19-year-old girl told Mr Smith that she felt she had been raped despite no semen belonging to the accused being found in her vagina.

Mr Smith had told her that DNA evidence would show that semen from the accused was not found in her vagina despite her claim that he had ejaculated inside her.

'It was all over my tracksuit and my thong. He raped me. I felt he raped me.'

Mr Smyth suggested to her that when she was in the jeep she was lying back in a manner that was aimed at sexually arousing the accused.

'Why would I do that' she replied. 'I was 16 years of age and he was 52. I wasn"t asking for anything. I wasn"t lying back in a sexual manner.'

The complainant denied that when she moved from the back of the jeep into the passenger seat her head fell onto the accused"s lap and that she put her hand down his trousers.

She denied Mr Smyth"s suggestion that this was the sexual contact that occurred and that it was initiated by herself.

The complainant further denied that the accused ejaculated after, as counsel suggested, she put her hand down his trousers and that she transferred the semen onto her tracksuit and thong as she tried to pull up her clothes.

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