Saturday 15 December 2018

Jury in rape trial shown CCTV footage from before and after alleged offences

The Central Criminal Court
The Central Criminal Court

Jessica Magee

The jury in the trial of a teenager accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in Co Donegal has been shown CCTV footage of them both before and after the alleged offences.

The accused, now aged 19, denies raping and orally raping the girl behind a building in a Co Donegal town following St Patrick's Day celebrations on March 18, 2016.

The girl, now aged 18, previously told the Central Criminal Court that after consuming seven or eight alcoholic drinks with her friends in a bar, she met the boy at a takeaway and they went for a walk.

On the fourth day of the trial yesterday, defence counsel, Michael O'Higgins SC, observed that they seemed comfortable with one another in the footage showing them walking to and from the scene of the alleged rapes.

The short clip shows the accused and the injured party walking up the street beforehand with her arm around his shoulders and his arm around her waist.

“I did consider him a friend at the time,” the girl said.

Footage from the same street camera later on shows them walking back after the alleged incident holding hands and talking.

The accused has a can in his hand and takes a phone out of his pocket, turns on the phone flash light and shines it on the girl's hand.

“I suggest that you are discussing the possibility of blood on your hand and that he's taken out his phone to shine it on your hand, an action performed out of concern for you,” said Mr O'Higgins.

“I don't know if it's natural concern on his part,” the girl responded.

Counsel said the footage also shows the girl pat the accused's back and tousle his hair, then they kiss briefly before she appears to half shake her head and they step apart.

“These are not the actions of someone who has been twice raped in the previous few minutes,” said counsel for the defence.

The girl rejected this.

“I can agree it would be hard for other people to understand unless you'd been in that situation. I myself can't explain it. All I know is that from mid-way through the intercourse until some weeks later I was in a state of complete shock, and I can't explain my actions during that time,” she said.

Mr O'Higgins concluded his cross-examination by pointing out that sometimes people do things when they're drunk that would never consider doing when they are sober.

“You were a young 16-year-old woman, girl, at the crest of adolescence, entering into young adulthood. You were very intoxicated, having consumed high-power, high-volume, high-alcohol drinks in a very short space of time. Your memory of the event is very skewed and you have put together a narrative which suggests there was not consent to events, to which I suggest there was full consent at the time,” said Mr O'Higgins.

“I disagree,” said the girl.

Earlier, the court heard that the accused had kissed or “shifted” the girl and her friend at a house party three months before the alleged incident.

The girl confirmed that she had a house party when her parents were away and that herself and her friend had gone into one of the bedrooms upstairs.

“He started kissing both of us, but it was okay up to a point and then we both wanted to leave, he'd started touching us, and anyway I didn't want to stay in the situation,” she said, and explained to the court that the accused had reached for the button on her trousers.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy and a jury of eight men and four women.

The girl was also repeatedly questioned about an inconsistency in her evidence in court compared to what she told gardaí.

The jury was told that about a year after the alleged offence, she made an additional statement to gardaí saying she remembered a second car arriving at the scene, during which the accused had left her briefly for a second time to investigate.

She told gardaí that she didn't remember whether she had been raped before or after the second car had arrived, and that “the exact sequence of events between these vehicles arriving is quite hazy now.”

Mr O'Higgins said it was “distinctly odd” that she should report something to gardaí and then forget to mention it during her evidence to the prosecution.

“I personally think it's understandable given the circumstances,” she said.

“It didn't cross my mind. I was focused on the questions that the prosecution asks – I don't mean any disrespect to prosecuting counsel,” she added.

Mr O'Higgins told her sternly to stop blaming Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, and take responsibility for her own admissions.

“I never meant to blame Mr McGrath, I made that clear,” she said.

“At times I felt I hadn't sufficient time to answer,” the girl said, and apologised to the judge and the jury for not bringing the detail about the second car to their attention earlier.

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