Westmeath Man Who Raped Woman With Bottle Jailed For Eight Years

He was convicted of section four rape of a woman in a garden shed in 2019.

A High Court judge who jailed a man for eight years for a raping a woman with a bottle has spoken of “the importance of the concept of consent”.

Justice Tony Hunt made his remarks in the sentencing of Jonathan (aka Johnny) Moran (26). Bláthnaid Raleigh previously waived her anonymity so Moran could be named in reporting of the case.

Justice Hunt warned that “consent is something that must be looked for” adding that if it is not established, “you do so at your own peril”.

“If it is not consensual sexual activity, it is sexual activity that will result in the commission of a serious sexual offence and the room for anything but a significant immediate custodial sentence is non-existent,” Justice Hunt continued.

Moran, of Tower View, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of section four rape of Ms Raleigh, in a garden shed in Galway on July 21, 2019.

At an earlier hearing, Ms Raleigh read her victim impact into the record. She said during the course of her statement that she wants to be a “support and advocate for other victims of sexual violence” as she is aware that not every victim gets to see their attacker convicted.

Ms Raleigh is also from Mullingar and Moran played rugby in the local club with her brothers. She had been attending the Arts Festival in Galway with a friend when they happened to bump into Moran and other people from their home town.

The rape occurred after Ms Raleigh went back with Moran and some other young people to the AirBnB that Moran and his friends were staying in that weekend. They later moved from the house to a shed in the back garden of the property where the rape occurred.

Moran claimed that the sexual activity on the night had been consensual and denied that he used any implement in assaulting Ms Raleigh. Her DNA was found on the opening of three plastic cordial bottles following a forensic examination of the shed.

The court heard that Ms Raleigh was left with extensive physical injuries that required months of treatment in the sexual assault unit.

Sentencing Moran today/yesterday (Monday), Mr Justice Hunt said it is very important that “people who are engaging or considering engaging in sexual activity bear in mind that the importance of consent.”

“Perhaps if cases such as Mr Moran and the consequences for him could be told to younger people it might make a difference,” Mr Justice Hunt said before he added that the consequences of not ensuring consent can have “very far-reaching consequences”.

He further noted that these cases tend “to impact people who have had no previous engagement with the criminal justice system”.

“It is important for people to listen to these things and take onboard and not find themselves in this position and indeed not to put people such as Ms Raleigh in this position.”

“It is a pity people don’t think about these things a little bit more and I am not lecturing as an old person, but to appeal to people to have a little bit more care in what they are doing,” Mr Justice Hunt said, adding that if it stops even two people engaging in sexual activity without consent, his remarks would be worth it.

He added that this holds true particularly in cases in which people engage in this activity when they don’t know each other, as if they don’t know each other well “more efforts should be made to ensure the situation is clear”

“People seem prepared to take extraordinary risks with people they don’t particularly know,” Mr Justice Hunt commented.

Mr Justice Hunt acknowledged that Moran now accepts the verdict of the jury but added “we still don’t have an intelligible view coming from him as to why he did what he did”.

The judge also commented that he could not understand why it took so long for “the penny to drop” with Moran given the “clear nature of the evidence in this case” adding that Ms Raleigh was “very convincing both at trial and while giving her victim impact statement”.

“That forensic evidence speaks very, very loudly and very, very clearly of the truth of her complaint and the truth of her testimony,” Mr Justice Hunt continued.

The judge described Moran’s conduct as “appalling”, adding it was entirely unacceptable to treat another human being in this way – noting that every person has their dignity and his behaviour “was completely and utterly beyond the pale”.

Justice Hunt said that anybody who heard Ms Raleigh’s evidence “would be struck with how articulate she is” and noted that he believes it is better for victims to speak for themselves.

He noted she has had long term physical injuries but said he has “no doubt” that she has the capacity to continue on and wished her well for the future.

Justice Hunt set a headline sentence of 10 years, noting that the aggravating features included her physical injuries and the abuse of trust in the case.

“She did trust him up to a point,” Justice Hunt said, accepting evidence in the trial that they had clearly agreed to move from the house to the shed but added that “the trust she placed in him was flagrantly abused by his conduct”.

He acknowledged Moran's “late recognition” of the jury’s verdict, his lack of previous convictions and is good employment record before he reduced the sentence to nine years.

Justice Hunt then suspended the final year of that nine-year term on strict conditions, including that Moran have no contact either directly or indirectly with Ms Raleigh for an indefinite duration, that he engage with the Probation Service for 18 months and that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years upon his ultimate release for three years.

Ms Raleigh read her victim impact statement into the record at an earlier sentence hearing.

She said she had not felt comfortable using the word rape until she had “validation from the court”, but the conviction at trial allowed her to use that now. She told Moran she was “handing the shame back to you”.

She said previous to the assault, she was a typical 21-year-old in her final year of her degree, “finding her feet in adulthood” and described herself as “carefree and fun”. She said in the aftermath of the attack, “her life was totally shattered”.

Ms Raleigh referred to the physical injuries she sustained from the attack which led to her needing “invasive and ongoing” treatment in the sexual assault treatment unit for months. “This was a constant and physical reminder of the damage caused to my body,” she said.

She said she continues to suffer pain from these injuries and described “endless sleepless nights, vivid nightmares and flashbacks”.

“Typical things are no longer fun for me – my body does not enjoy new things any more,” Ms Raleigh said.

She said the attack “haunts me still in my daily life” and she fears that “men see me as damaged goods”.

Ms Raleigh said the attack “shattered the path my life was on because someone decided to hurt me” and added that she no longer enjoys going out as she is constantly worrying about the safety of those around her.

She spoke of how she never feels like she is in a safe place but Moran “has a normal life since the incident”.

Ms Raleigh said her family has been her greatest support before she acknowledged how the attack impacted on their life. She said her brothers have left the rugby club they had been in for 20 years as Moran was in the same club.

She said she has experienced “fear, anger, sadness and loss”. She said the justice process has “felt so pointless” at times but she said she is so grateful to “those 12 people who believed me”.

Ms Raleigh thanked the Rape Crisis Centre and the gardaí.

“There are physical and mental scars to heal,” Ms Raleigh said before she added that when she tells people what happened to her they tell her she is so strong.

“I don’t want to be strong. I feel cheated that this is my life,” Ms Raleigh said before she described how something can trigger her which leads to her sleep being impacted.

She said she is moving on to the next stage of her life.

Fiona Murphy SC, defending, said that her client had “difficulty facing up to the case” but now accepts the verdicts of the jury and is remorseful. The court heard he has no previous convictions and comes from a good, hard-working family.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, please see below for helplines:

Tullamore Rape Crisis Centre Freephone: 1800 32 32 32

Mullingar Sexual Assault Treatment Unit For advice or to book an appointment contact the Gardaí or ring the unit 044 9394239 or 086 0409952 Mon -Fri 0800- 1730.

Contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre's 24-Hour National Helpline at 1800 77 8888

It is also possible to email to counselling@rcc.ie (note that e-mails can only be answered during office hours)

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, a text service can be reached Mon-Fri from 8am to 6:30pm, at 086-8238443 and a webchat service is available Mon-Fri, 10am to 5pm (excluding Bank Holidays). It is also open 0:00 to 3:00 on Tuesdays & Wednesdays.

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