News Courts

Saturday 22 October 2016

Deaf woman allegedly raped by two men in caravan after arranging meeting online

Alan Erwin

Published 23/02/2016 | 07:18

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A deaf woman was allegedly raped by two men in a caravan after arranging a meeting over social media, a court heard today.

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Police claimed one of the pair had manipulated and coerced her into getting a taxi to the traveller site in west Belfast.

The woman has also alleged her drink may have been spiked during the incident on the Glen Road early on Friday.

David Spence, 18, and Francis Gavin, 23, appeared before magistrates in the city accused of carrying out the sex attack.

Both men deny charges of rape, insisting all contact with the woman in her thirties was consensual.

Spence, a trainee joiner from Ardcaoin Avenue in the Dunmurry area, was granted bail on conditions that include a ban on accessing computers.

But Gavin, of Glen Road Heights in Belfast, remains in custody while checks are carried out on proposed addresses.

A judge was told the woman had been in contact with Spence through a social media site before a meeting was arranged.

Describing her as vulnerable, an investigating detective said she made it clear that she was not interested in having sex at the encounter.

The officer claimed Spence had ignored requests to come to her house, instead arranging for a taxi to bring her to the Glen Road traveller encampment.

Following the alleged attack he said she left the caravan and walked a quarter of a mile down a lane in the dark before reporting the incident at the first house with lights on.

Defence barrister Tom McCreanor, for Spence, put it to the officer that his client and the woman had "intimate and suggestive" social media exchanges before meeting.

The detective replied: "She does mention she likes sex. However, she is saying that's within a long-term relationship."

Photographs were also sent between her and Spence, the court heard.

Asked if the woman's vulnerability related to a hearing issue, the officer said: "This lady is profoundly deaf."

He also claimed: "From the content of text messages there was bit of manipulation or coercion."

But Mr McCreanor argued that his client had been in "consensual and encouraged communication" with the woman.

He told the court she willingly got a taxi to the caravan and was never prevented from leaving.

Granting bail for Spence to return to court in four weeks, District Judge Fiona Bagnall ordered him to live with his parents under curfew.

He was banned from using mobile phones, computers and accessing social media sites, and must not go near either the alleged victim's home or the traveller site.

Gavin also faces unrelated charges of common assault, criminal damage to a window and possession of a knuckle duster  over an incident on January 25.

Defence solicitor Eamon O'Connor stressed his client is not accused of making any of the arrangements to meet the alleged rape victim.

"He was at the site when the alleged injured party arrived," Mr O'Connor said.

"He made the case in ten interviews that any contact between himself and this lady was entirely by consent."

During cross-examination the detective confirmed the woman claimed her drink may have been spiked.

Forensic tests are still being carried out to establish if it was.

But with police claiming Gavin has used six addresses in the last five years, his bail application was adjourned for further checks on where he might live if released.

Belfast Telegraph

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