A student who was raped by two Donegal residents after she came back to their flat after a night out drinking has said the men had robbed her of the last five years of her life.
Boakye Osei (29) of Twoban, Burnfoot and Kelvin Opoku (33) of Cill Graine, Letterkenny had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the rape of the woman in a town in the county in February 2015.
After a five week trial in late 2019, a jury of seven men and four women took just over two hours to return unanimous guilty verdicts. Justice Alex Owens remanded the two Ghanaian nationals in custody.
The woman, who is now in her 20s, told the court that it was difficult to narrow down into words the effect this has had on her.
In her victim impact statement, which she read out before the court, the woman said the experience of being stripped of her clothes in the sexual assault treatment unit to be examined internally and externally was “challenging and humiliating”.
The woman said she was told she had to attend a hospital to be put on anti-HIV medicine because of the ethnicity of the accused. She said she spent the next few months going to hospitals for blood tests and to take medications she had not heard of before she was given the all clear.
She said that she had already decided if she was diagnosed with HIV she would kill herself. She said she still feels panic and fear around black males.
The woman said the recent trial was the third attempt for it to go ahead. She said she had to prepare herself emotionally and take time off work [each time].
She said the trial was one of the hardest things she had ever had to experience and that reliving the events was like reopening an old wound. She said that the men had robbed her of five years of her life.
Garda Sean Duffy told Seamus Clarke SC, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the woman had been out with her friend in a nightclub. The woman's friend struck up a conversation with the two accused while walking home and the women went with them to Opoku's then address in the town.
The woman said that on a scale of one to ten in terms of drunkenness, she was a ten and about to pass out. A video clip shown during the trial showed the woman in intoxicated state and being brought into a bedroom.
The court heard that while the woman was halfway asleep, she felt something heavy on top of her and something inside her vagina. She felt there was a pause and then another sequence of movements and she did not consent to any of this.
Gda Duffy said the woman's friend said that after she blocked Osei from having sex with her, he went over to the woman and had sex with her after Opoku had left the room. A condom discarded by Osei found in the kitchen was used to establish a forensic link that Osei had had sex with the woman.
In interview with gardaí, Opoku claimed that the woman had not been too drunk to consent and said she had been an enthusiastic participant. Osei denied having any sexual activity with the woman.
Both men have previous convictions for minor road traffic offences.
Colman Fitzgerald SC, defending Opoku, said his client had a “badly incorrect” view of what rape is and has at all times insisted he did not force the complainant. He said Opoku has not seen his wife and children since being returned to Ireland from the UK on foot of a European arrest warrant.
Barry White SC, defending Osei, said his client did not give evidence during the trial and did not perjure himself before the jury. He said Osei has four children by two different women and appears to be “a good family man”.
Mr Justice Alexander Owens adjourned the case to March 16, next, when he will here further submissions from counsel and set a date for handing down sentence.
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