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Court hears man 'used Facebook to apologise to rape victim'

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A Facebook page run by Surrey Police uses jokey language and describes criminals as 'numpties' and 'Billy Burglar'

A Facebook page run by Surrey Police uses jokey language and describes criminals as 'numpties' and 'Billy Burglar'

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Facebook page run by Surrey Police uses jokey language and describes criminals as 'numpties' and 'Billy Burglar'

A man used Facebook to apologise to the woman he allegedly raped within hours of the attack, a jury heard on Wednesday.

The Belfast Crown Court jury of six men and six women were told that as well as claiming to be "so sorry," 28-year-old Stephen Doherty also sent a personal Facebook "jocular" message to his alleged victim when she said the attack had been "a bad dream" saying: "OK, LOL."

Doherty, from Bush Manor in Antrim, denies raping the 28-year-old woman on February 26, 2011.

Opening the case against him, prosecuting QC Charles McKay told the jury that the issue of consent would be "pivotal" in the case as the alleged victim claims she was asleep and woke to find Doherty having sex with her while he counterclaims that she was actively participating.

"It is the prosecution case that this man did not give her the freedom or capacity to voice her choice [whether to have sex] because she was unconscious at the time," declared the lawyer.

He said the pair had been out separately with friends and had met in Thompson's Garage nightclub when there was a decision at the end of the night to go back to the alleged victim's house

After her friend left, leaving Doherty and his friend in the house, the alleged victim went to bed in her underwear and dressing gown said the lawyer, adding that was "the last conscious thought she had".

Mr McKay told the court however that sometime later she awoke to find Doherty "on top of her" having sex with her.

"She thought at that stage that it was a dream she was in, but she quickly realised it was not a dream and that he was having sex with her," claimed the lawyer, adding that the woman pushed him off shouting "what the f***".

In a state of "distress and crying," Doherty's alleged victim demanded to know "what he was doing, why should he think that she would want him to do that," said Mr McKay.

Both Doherty and his friend left in taxis but later that day, within hours of the incident, Doherty sent his alleged victim a message on Facebook saying: "I'm so sorry for being a d*** but regrets ??? none."

The woman replied that that was "good for you but I feel sick thinking about it...it never happened," to which Doherty wrote: "My head's still melted. I'm sorry. I really like you. I swear I can't remember going into your room at all."

"Just don't mention it to anybody. That's what I'm doing - It was a bad dream," Mr McKay quoted the alleged victim as writing.

But he added when Doherty replied "OK, LOL" meaning 'laugh out loud' she thought he was insulting her and wrote back: "I'm glad you think what you done is so funny."

Doherty was arrested and during police interviews claimed the pair had had consensual sex, describing how the woman had been making "moaning noises" so he believed she was consenting.

The trial continues.

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