Wednesday 28 September 2016

Boy tells court about 'chest tattoo' on painter who allegedly raped him in park

Alan Erwin

Published 01/09/2016 | 07:27

Falls Park Credit: Google Maps
Falls Park Credit: Google Maps

A teenage boy allegedly raped in west Belfast described a tattoo on the chest of the man accused of attacking him, the High Court heard today.

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Prosecutors also claimed the 16-year-old youth was trailed into bushes and subjected to a predatory sexual assault as he screamed for help.

Details emerged as bail was refused to a 39-year-old painter and decorator charged with carrying out the attack in the Falls Park area early on July 16.

Gerard Scannell, from Ballymurphy Road in the city, denies three counts of rape and a further offence of sexual assault.

His lawyers challenged the strength of case, insisting no DNA evidence has yet been established.

The court heard the boy was allegedly attacked after leaving friends to walk home. He told police that he passed a man wearing dungarees and a T-shirt who asked his name and shouted "Yo" in a bid to attract his attention.

It was claimed the man then followed him into the park before grabbing him by the neck and repeatedly raping him.

Prosecution counsel said: "He described this to police as being sore he said he was screaming and shouting for help."

During the alleged ordeal the attacker took his top off, revealing a tattoo on his chest, the court was told.

According to the prosecutor a tattoo on Scannell's body matched the description provided by the teenager.

Police were alerted shortly after the youth returned to his mother's home. Mr Justice Maguire was told a T-shirt found close to the scene of the alleged rape belonged to the accused.

Opposing bail, the Crown lawyer claimed Scannell had shaved off his beard before handing himself in to police.

During interviews he said he had been drinking heavily at two different bars on the night of the alleged attack.

He claimed to have taken the T-shirt off because he had spilled a pint over it and was going to see his mother.

But the prosecution contended that he failed to provide a full account of his whereabouts.

It was accepted that intimate samples taken from the teenager found no traces of the accused's DNA.

The results of forensic tests on samples from Scannell will not be available until November.

Scannell could also flee if released due to anger and threats towards him from within the local community, the court heard.

However, defence counsel Mark Farrell questioned the reliability and independence of a Viper identification procedure where the alleged victim picked out his client.

Mr Farrell claimed the teenager was involved in a Facebook exchange with someone linked to Scannell on the day before the process. "It's clear that this applicant was known, or his name certainly was known, to the injured party," the barrister said.

"The problem for the Crown is the entire case has been presented as an unprovoked, predatory rape involving people who do not know each other."

Arguing that Scannell faces "a thin enough circumstantial case" that could take a year to get to trial, Mr Farrell suggested the accused could live at an address outside Northern Ireland.

Denying bail, however, Mr Justice Maguire held there was a risk Scannell could then flee.

Belfast Telegraph

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