Courts

Saturday 26 July 2014

I will never feel safe again after rape in van – victim

Ralph Riegel

Published 30/01/2013|05:00

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A YOUNG woman left "degraded and humiliated" by a terrifying sex attack in the back of a van directly challenged two men on how they could ever claim that it was consensual.

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The woman was picked up by the men in the van after she had been drinking, and subjected to a humiliating ordeal on a mattress in the back.

"I was terrified ... I knew I was in a dangerous situation. I was literally afraid for my life," she said.

The men initially denied to gardai that any sexual contact had occurred, but later insisted it was consensual. They said they had dropped the woman home safe.

"I feel my integrity was being questioned. It was horrible because they were trying to make out it was consensual.

"I just want to say how could it be consensual with ripped clothes and bruises?

"My clothes had been ripped off me. I will never feel safe again."

Two men, aged 16 and 18 at the time of the incident, will be sentenced tomorrow after being convicted on charges related to the attack in Glanmire, Co Cork, on September 13, 2009.

It emerged that they have a total of 39 previous convictions between them for burglary, theft, drunk and disorderly and threatening behaviour. But neither has served any time in prison.

One of the men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault of the woman. The other was convicted of attempted rape and sexual assault.

Mr Justice Paul Carney told defence teams that both men would be sentenced as adults tomorrow. "As far as I am concerned, they left their childhood behind long ago," he said.

Sobbed

One of the men sobbed throughout the woman's lengthy statement, which was read to the Central Criminal Court in Cork by Patrick McCarthy SC.

The 34-year-old woman said she had moved to Ireland because she felt "it was so safe" here.

On the night of the attack, she attended a birthday party in a pub but became separated from her friends. She had consumed a quantity of alcohol and was then picked up by the two men and another individual in a white van.

The men drove her down an isolated country lane and tried to have sex with her on the mattress. The older man said: "Hurry on, give me a lash" at one stage during the attack.

They stole €190 from her purse and divided it up amongst themselves before stealing her car. When the woman left the van, her bra and panties had been ripped off. Her blouse and her trousers were also torn.

The woman said she found the men's claims during the trial very difficult to cope with.

"I have recurring nightmares of being pinned down and being unable to get up. I am reliving the incident," she said.

Irish Independent

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