A former Ros Na Rún actor has received a six-year prison sentenced for the oral rape of a young woman who fell asleep in his van as he gave her a lift home.
Garrett Phillips (46) of St Mary’s Terrace, Taylor’s Hill, Galway, was convicted after a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court of one charge of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5, 2015.
By Aoife Nic Ardghail and Jessica Magee
The father-of-two had pleaded not guilty to the offence and has no previous convictions.
In victim impact statement read to the court on the previous sentence hearing, the woman said she had been very social and doing well in her studies before the attack.
“I was high achieving. My life was a train on a track in the right direction,” she stated.
The woman described how she is now a changed person, that she has questioned her will to live and started to “feel emotions that were foreign to me”.
She says in the time since the assault, she still feels like the same 20-year-old girl banging on a door for help.
She said the court process, during which she had to sit inches away from her attacker, was one of the hardest things she has ever had to do. She said she was forced to speak about something painful and made to feel like a liar when giving her evidence over two days.
Detective Garda Evelyn Barratt told Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that Phillips approached the woman as she sat alone and upset on a park bench and offered her a lift home.
The woman took the lift, and on the way, Phillips asked her if she had ever seen an overview of the city lights. The woman replied that she hadn’t, fell asleep and when she woke up, Phillips was no longer in the driver’s seat but standing over her with his penis in her mouth.
The detective said the woman reacted strongly, got out of the van, memorised the registration and ran to a nearby home for help.
During the trial, the jury heard that Phillips claimed the encounter was consensual. He told gardaí that it had started off “very tender” and felt “chemical” between him and the woman.
Defence counsel Barry White SC submitted that Phillips wished to “unreservedly apologise for his behaviour”. Mr White said his client had not informed his wife about the matter until the evening before his trial earlier this year.
The court heard that Phillips initially worked in his family’s business before getting into acting and had been appearing on stage in London up to his trial.