A former hotelier who was jailed for raping a 17-year-old maid after a staff party broke up told the Court of Appeal on Tuesday his defense was not put before a trial jury.
Brian Shaughnessy (55), formerly of Ballywinna, Craughwell, Co Galway, was convicted of raping a female part-time employee in the presidential suite of the Loughrea Hotel and Spa in the early hours of July 26, 2010. which he owned. Time.
He denied the rape charge but was found guilty by a jury in March 2013 and on 10 June 2013 at the Central Criminal Court Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan sentenced him to six years with one year suspended. was
Shaughnessy then filed an appeal, which was dismissed in April 2020. Shaughnessy claimed that his legal team did not adequately represent him at trial and that a timeline, which may have been missing an hour and 15 minutes, would have tested the teenager’s credibility. The woman’s account of sexual violence was insufficiently cross-examined.
Shaughnessy claimed that these issues were mentioned as afterthoughts in the defense’s speech to the jury, and glossed over in general.
His former legal team denies any claims of incompetence.
In the first appeal, it was argued that this was “new evidence” that the claim was not on the transcript and related to the way in which the previous legal team had addressed his legal instructions.
However, Shaughnessy successfully appealed the matter to the Supreme Court and the case was sent back to the Court of Appeal in March last year.
In the Supreme Court’s decision to send the case back to the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Peter Charlton said it was “manifestly not possible” to decide without hearing further evidence about the original instructions or the accused’s version. Whether or not the lawyer was in fact unqualified. of events
At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, a sometimes tearful Shaughnessy said he handed over four “sensitive” documents to his defense team on Friday ahead of his trial, which starts next Monday.
Shaughnessy claims the documents show the hotel’s front desk issuing a key card at 3.23am when he and the 17-year-old “went straight” to the room with wine and two glasses.
He further claimed that his legal team was also provided with 22 phone records showing the last call from the hotel for a taxi for the young woman who left at 5.41am, two hours after the key was issued. was She claims that she also provided her phone records and those of the complainant, who was texting from the room just before she left.
In his opening statement, Hugh Hartnett SC, for Shaughnessy, said the issue of how long the young woman had been in the room was “crucial” to the appeal. He said the woman told the trial she was in the room for 30 minutes but that was not true if she was “attacked almost immediately but stayed there for over two hours”.
Mr Hartnett said the “two-hour” defense, which Shaughnessy claims “constantly” put pressure on his legal team, was not adequately represented at the trial. The lawyer said it was a “hard, factual issue for the court to decide”.
Shaughnessy told Paul Green SC, for the state, that the two-hour period was “fundamental” to his defense and he constantly reminded his legal team of it. Shaughnessy admitted to Mr Green that he had initially told gardaí he had been in the room for 45 minutes and while he had made other mistakes, he said his story “never changed”.
The appellant said he raised the two-hour issue “clearly, and in every meeting with my legal team” but claimed he was told to leave the matter in the team’s hands. A tearful Shaughnessy said he had “no reason” to remember the night he spoke to gardaí, adding that five months had passed before he spoke to them.
Timeline evidence related to the key card and phone evidence was never put to the complainant’s questions or put to the jury, Shaughnessy said. Shaughnessy told Mr Green: “I can’t be more clear: My defense was not put to a jury. The Supreme Court took us in and that’s why we’re here today. My story has never changed.”
Mr Green asked Shaughnessy if he was aware of what the gardaí wanted to discuss with him before speaking to him. Shaughnessy said he was because the victim’s father called him and asked what Shaughnessy had done to his daughter. Shaughnessy said he did nothing and said he was told “the wrong answer” by the complainant’s father, who then hung up.
Shaughnessy said his time in prison meant he missed his father’s funeral, is now separated from his wife “and has been taken away from my children for a crime I didn’t commit.” “. A tearful Shaughnessy said: “I’ve spent time in prison, a lot of time – I took them. [his legal team] To be professionals.”
Solicitor Gearoid Geraghty represented Shaughnessy at his trial. Mr Geraghty, who has practiced criminal law for 31 years, told Mr Hartnett that a two-hour defense at trial was not a viable strategy and was later raised by Shaughnessy.
Mr Geraghty told Mr Hartnett that because Shaughnessy told gardaí he was in the room for 45 minutes, the two-hour strategy would cast doubt on his earlier statement.
Mr Geraghty said this had been raised in the initial consultation but had not been pressed by Shaughnessy.
Mr Geraghty said he met Shaughnessy after the conviction and his then client told him he had 17 grounds of appeal. However, Mr Geraghty said, the meeting “became a bit of a tussle because I was concerned that he had grounds for appeal but wouldn’t say what they were. He didn’t put up a two-hour defence.
Mr Geraghty said he believed it would be “absurd” to have the dispute between two hours and 45 minutes during the trial.
“On one construction, it could make our client a liar,” Mr Geraghty said. Mr Geraghty said the applicant was appreciative of his legal team during the trial.
Mr. Justice George Birmingham, presiding, adjourned the hearing of the appeal till October 7, 2022 to allow time for preparation of transcripts and submissions by both sides.