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Tuesday, 7 March, 2000, 14:06 GMT
Husband jailed for raping wife

A 41-year-old Belfast man has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for raping his wife.

The man whose name cannot be revealed, in order to protect his wife's identity, was found guilty at Downpatrick Crown Court of raping and assaulting her in August 1998.

Eileen Calder from the Rape Crisis Centre
Eileen Calder: Verdict will encourage women to come forward
He also received a two-year sentence for attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm and 18 months for assault.

The sentences are to run concurrently.

The guilty man will also be put on the police sex offenders register on his release from prison.

It is thought to be the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland where a husband has been found guilty of raping his wife.

The Rape Crisis Centre said the verdict was "encouraging".

Eileen Calder from the centre said: "The maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment.

"In saying that most rapists don't get anywhere near that so comparatively speaking it is a fairly heavy sentence and we are pleased to see that the judge did not make any allowance for the fact that these people were married.

"We hope that that will encourage other women to come forward who are being raped or abused in a domestic or marital situation."

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