A young man has been convicted and fined for assaulting the man he believed had raped his best friend.
The defendant, a student who is not being named to protect the identity of the alleged victim, admitted attacking the other man and using pepper spray.
The college student was fined €250 for the assault and a further €250 for possession of the illegal pepper spray.
The rape allegation is the subject of a file which will be going to the DPP, Inspector Jarlath Folan said.
At a recent sitting in Mullingar the court heard that on May 17 last the defendant and his best friend, a girl, had been on a bus travelling from Galway when they became aware that the man who is subject of the rape allegation was on the same bus.
When they got off the bus at Mullingar train station the defendant followed the alleged rapist to his mother’s car, opened the door, and attacked him, striking him a number of times in the face.
There was a tussle, Inspector Jarlath Folan said, and the defendant used pepper spray on the other man before the fight was broken up by passers-by.
The defendant left the scene but was followed and found with the pepper spray.
Representing himself, he spoke with a shake in his voice throughout the hearing.
The attack wasn’t pre-meditated, he said, and he and his friend didn’t discuss it in advance.
He told the court that he and the young woman, whom he says comes from a background of neglect, were not in a relationship but met at school and became close friends.
He said that last March she was the victim of an alleged rape and since then he had been talking to her every day and seeing her every weekend because of her anxiety.
It was “an unfortunate coincidence” that the man alleged to have raped her was on the bus, he said, adding that he didn’t know the other man until she pointed him out. He was loud at the back of the bus and drew attention to himself, the defendant said.
“I observed him get into the car completely unaffected by the havoc he wreaked on my friend’s life,” the defendant said.
He said he went to the car, opened the door and said “You’re a rapist”, and was kicked away.
He admitted procuring the pepper spray for the young woman on condition that she keep it in her bag at all times for self-defence.
The young man said he has no previous conviction, and is a law-abiding person with no engagement in criminal activity. Inspector Folan said he was very cooperative with gardaí.
Judge Hughes told the young man he had aquitted himself very well in court and that his story had a ring of truth. But he had taken the law into his own hands.
The young man responded by saying that just 6 per cent of all rapes are reported and only a quarter of those go to trial.
“That’s no reflection on the gardaí,” said Judge Hughes. “But you still don’t take the law into your own hands.”
He convicted the young man on both counts and put recognisance in place in the event of an appeal.