Monday 22 October 2018

Boy (16) allegedly raped in park 'thought he was going to be killed' - court hears

Gerard Scannell has denied all charges
Gerard Scannell has denied all charges

Ashleigh McDonald

A 16-year-old boy who claimed he was dragged backwards into bushes then raped in a west Belfast park told police he believed he was going to be killed, a jury heard yesterday.

Gerard Scannell is on trial at Belfast Crown Court, accused of sexually assaulting the teenager in the early hours of July 16, 2016.

Scannell, who is originally from Ballymurphy Road and who is now living at an undisclosed address in another area of Belfast, has been charged with three counts of rape, and of sexually assaulting the teenager.

The 40-year old has denied all charges, and has made the case that while he was socialising in local pubs prior to the alleged sex attack, he had no knowledge of or contact with the teenager.

As the Crown opened its case against Scannell to a jury of six men and six women, prosecuting barrister Jackie Orr QC said that when they had heard all the evidence in the case, they would be satisfied Scannell was guilty of the offences.

The jury heard that before the alleged incident, the teenager had been drinking with friends, and was walking alone along Norglen Parade in the early hours when he first became aware of an older man standing in the street.

The teenager said that as he walked along the road, the older man shouted "Yo" at him a couple of times, before asking his name.

He proceeded along the road and entered Falls Park via a gate. He became aware the older man was following him, and as he walked along the pathway in the park, he was "trailed back" by the t-shirt and "dragged backwards" into bushes.

It is here, the teenager claimed, that the older man took his own top off, then subjected him to a series of sexual assaults.

He later told police that after having been dragged backwards into the bushes, "I actually thought I was going to be killed, instead of what actually did happen".

The teenager, who is now 18, claimed Scannell forced him to perform a sex act on him twice. He also claimed that during one of the attacks, he told Scannell to stop, that he wanted to go, and that he was "screaming and shouting for help".

He also told police that his ordeal came to an end when Scannell pushed his head back which sent him "flying back" - and at this point he got up and was able to flee. The teenager said: "As I was running away, he was shouting, 'Get back over here now'."

He was able to run to a relative's house, but said he couldn't tell them what happened immediately as he "couldn't get the words out ... I was crying".

Crown barrister Ms Orr QC said that when police were informed, a search of the bushes was conducted and several items were recovered and forensically examined.

She also said that when Scannell's home was searched, clothes matching the description given by the teenager of what his attacker wore were located.

When he was arrested and interviewed about the alleged sex attack, Scannell said that on the evening in question he had been drinking in two bars in the area, that he left around 1am, and the next thing he remembers is waking up in his mother's house the following morning.

He consistently denied having any knowledge of or contact with the teenager, and denied allegations he had raped and sexually assaulted him.

Belfast Telegraph

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