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PPS to appeal bail for man accused of raping woman in front of toddler

Dungannon Court

The Public Prosecution Service is to appeal a decision to grant bail to a man charged with multiple offences including raping a woman in the presence of their toddler child.

The accused who is aged in his twenties – but cannot be named to protect the identity of the complainant – and is charged with raping, assaulting, attempting to strangle and unlawfully imprisoning her against her will.

A detective constable told Dungannon Magistrates’ Court all charges could be connected.

He explained the complainant contacted police reporting a domestic abuse incident allegedly beginning around 5am on July 17, when she was woken by her partner kicking and verbally abusing her.

She fled to a nearby address but got no response, while the defendant was shouting at her to return home.

When she did, he allegedly locked the door and told her she would not be leaving until she had sex with him, shouting: “Get up there now and get your clothes off.”

The commotion woke their sleeping child who was lifted by the complainant and held in her arms, but the defendant “got her into a headlock and again told her to take her clothes off”.

She alleges the defendant raped her, ignoring her distress and in the presence of the child who saw everything and was crying.

Afterwards the defendant left the property and the complainant contacted police.

She had bruising to her thigh and marks to her jaw caused from being put in a headlock.

Screenshots were provided showing over 150 missed calls from the defendant after the incident and before his arrest.

He also sent an image of a rope hanging from a tree and asked to speak to the child.

During interview he denied the offences, stating in the days beforehand he saw a picture of the complainant at a party showing her talking to a male.

This annoyed him and he went to bed, later texting the complainant asking her to join him but got no reply and she spent the night in the spare room.

The following day he left for work and received a text from the complainant ending the relationship.

While claiming sex did occur following this, he insisted it was consensual and instigated by the complainant, contending the marks on her face were “smeared make-up”.

Objecting to bail the detective said: “The defendant made excessive attempts to contact the complainant post-incident. She has tried to leave him as he is very controlling and she is in fear of what he may do next as the abuse is getting worse. This is a significant domestic allegation in the presence of a very young child.”

The court heard the defendant was previously investigated for allegations of raping a different woman in 2017 with similar circumstances, but these did not proceed.

“Police believe, whilst not convicted, it shows a propensity to commit serious offences and escalation of his behaviour,” said the detective.

A defence barrister however pointed out his client has no previous record and argued bail could be granted with strict conditions.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said: “These are the most serious of alleged offences in front of a very young child, although seriousness alone is not a reason to deny bail. Given the answers in interview it may boil down to one word against another. The court cannot turn its eyes from protecting the complainant, but where I have doubt I have to grant bail.”

However, a prosecuting lawyer advised this is to be appealed and the defendant will remain in custody until bail has been ruled upon at High Court.

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