Belfast rapist Thomas Markey's bid to overturn conviction 'threadbare and untenable,' court rules

Senior judges rejected claims that Thomas Markey’s search history of a pornographic website was wrongly disclosed at his trial. Credit: UTV

A Belfast man’s legal attempt to overturn his conviction for raping a woman he met via online dating app Tinder was “threadbare and untenable”, the Court of Appeal ruled today.

Senior judges rejected claims that Thomas Markey’s search history of a pornographic website was wrongly disclosed at his trial.

Lord Justice Treacy held that it was relevant evidence of the 34-year-old’s state of mind at the time of the incident.

Markey, from Torrens Avenue, is serving a seven-year sentence for attacking the victim as she slept at her home in Co Down in September 2020.

The pair had met on Tinder and agreed to book an overnight stay at a hotel in Belfast.  

Two days before that planned arrangement Markey travelled to her home for drinks.

He originally intended to take a train home, but they agreed that he would stay over.

The woman fell asleep and woke in the early hours of the morning to find Markey raping her, according to the prosecution.

Following the assault he left the house in a taxi before she ran to a neighbour's house in a distressed state and called police.

Despite Markey maintaining that all sexual activity between the pair was consensual, in March last year a jury at a re-trial unanimously found him guilty of rape.

He was ordered to serve three and a half years in prison and a further three and a half years on supervised licence, placed on the sex offenders' register for an indefinite period and was made the subject of a 10-year sexual offences prevention order.

His appeal centred on the admissibility of evidence related to unspecified web browsing of a porn site, said to have been carried out within minutes of arranging a meeting with the victim.

Counsel for Markey claimed this was potentially prejudicial to his defence.

However, the prosecution insisted his sole motivation was to have sex with the woman, and that the browsing history demonstrated his state of mind at the time.

Backing those submissions, the Court of Appeal held that the material was also allowed in the first trial as direct evidence of Markey’s motive.

“We consider that this course of events demonstrates just how threadbare and untenable is the claim that this was an unsafe conviction,” Lord Justice Treacy said.

He added: “The extract demonstrates that immediately after the complainant invited him to her house, he was looking for pornographic material on the internet.

“We consider that the judge was entitled to conclude on the facts of this case that the impugned material was relevant evidence of the applicant’s state of mind at the relevant time.”

Further claims that questioning Markey about sexual relationships with other women he met on the dating app amounted to bad character evidence were also rejected.

“The part of the prosecution cross-examination that related to the use of Tinder was not linked to the issue of the Porn Hub mobile phone internet browser search history,” Lord Justice Treacy said.

He confirmed: “We do not consider that the verdict is unsafe, nor do we entertain any

unease, much less a significant sense of unease about the correctness of the verdict.

“Accordingly, the appeal against conviction is dismissed.”

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