Limerick man jailed over ‘savage and prolonged' attack seeks to overturn conviction

Ruaidhrí Giblin, Dublin

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Ruaidhrí Giblin, Dublin

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Limerick man jailed over ‘savage and prolonged' attack seeks to overturn conviction

The Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin

A Limerick man who was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years imprisonment for punching, kicking and repeatedly raping a woman in her home must wait to hear the outcome of an appeal against his conviction. 

Alan Hanley (35), of no fixed abode, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of rape at a house in Limerick city on the night of May 4, 2012.

He had admitted assaulting the woman causing her harm on the same occasion.

After a retrial, a jury returned guilty verdicts on all three rape charges.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy imposed sentences of 12 and a half years years for each of the rape offences. She imposed the maximum possible sentence of five years for the assault, saying it was hard to envisage a more serious attack.

“He terrorised her for more than an hour, putting her in real fear of her life,” the judge said. All sentences were to run concurrently from May 2012 when he was in custody. 

The Central Criminal Court heard that the “savage, brutal and prolonged” attack only came to an end when Hanley was distracted by the smoke alarm going off because he was burning cut up pieces of carpet on which he had ejaculated. 

He also burned all her underwear and other clothing, telling her “they'll get no evidence here”.

Hanley has previous convictions for violent crimes, including possession of a knife in 2000 and threats to kill in 2007 and 2008.

He was convicted of intimidating a witness in his own 2008 case.

This Friday, he moved to appeal his conviction in the Court of Appeal where judgment as reserved. 

Counsel for Hanley, Michael Bowman SC, submitted to the three-judge court his client’s trial was unfair and unsatisfactory because the trial judge refused to give the jury a corroboration warning. 

Mr Bowman said it was the class of case which required one due to “clear inconsistencies” in the complainant’s evidence, and contrary accounts she had given between both trials. 

A corroboration was given to the jury in Hanley’s first trial, which ultimately resulted in a disagreement.

Mr Bowman said the fact another court had given the warning endorsed the argument that it should have been given in the retrial. 

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would reserve its judgment. 

At the time of the attack the victim had been seeking treatment for abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs.

The court heard her rehabilitation attempts were set back after the attack but she had made significant progress more recently.

She suffered from nightmares which left her terrified to sleep and still attends weekly counselling with the Rape Crisis Centre. Ms Justice Murphy said the woman had worked hard on her personal growth and self esteem.

The victim had met Hanley some weeks before the attack and there was a sexual element to their relationship, the court heard. Two nights before the rape Hanley and the victim had a serious falling out.

Sergeant Andrew Lacey told the sentence hearing that on the night of the attack Hanley went to the woman's house and began punching and kicking her when she answered the door. He continued to attack her until she was lying in a ball by the fireplace.

He then tore all her clothes off and raped her on the rug before dragging her by her hair into a shower where he “hosed her down”, the court heard.

She tried to escape but he caught her and raped her a second time and dragged her into the shower again. He dragged her downstairs where he raped her a third time.

After the third rape Hanley ejaculated and some of this went on the rug. He became enraged and started cutting up the rug and began burning these cut up pieces in the fireplace.

During the sentencing hearing Hanley, who had dismissed his legal team after his conviction, repeatedly shouted at the judge that he was not a rapist and called the victim a liar.

He shouted: “You're making me out to be an animal”. Ms Justice Murphy warned him that she would sentence him in his absence if he continued to shout.