Jury in UCD campus Tinder sex assault trial to begin deliberations
Being naïve and foolish doesn't give anybody the right to sexually assault you, a lawyer has told the jury in the trial of a man accused of attacking a woman he met on Tinder.
The 36-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexual assault of the foreign national on UCD campus, south Dublin on July 23, 2014.
The woman, now aged 35, has testified that she arranged to meet the man after some weeks of communicating with him on the Tinder dating programme and on Whatsapp.
He picked her up in his car, a blue BMW, and drove her to a field on UCD campus. The woman said that he then “changed completely”, becoming aggressive and sexually assaulting her.
The man told gardaí that he thought they were meeting to “hook up” and hoped they would have sex. He denied getting angry and attacking her when this didn't happen.
On day seven of the trial the jury heard details of two garda interviews with the defendant. Jurors also heard closing speeches before Judge Cormac Quinn sent them home for the night. They will begin deliberations tomorrow morning.
The accused told gardaí that after driving her to a secluded lane-way he tried to kiss the woman, because he believed they were meeting for a hook-up. He said he hoped he would seduce her and they would have sex.
He said the woman pushed him back and became hysterical. He said he moved away and told her to relax.
He said she continued to “freak out” and he asked her to get out of the car and she became more upset. He said he then drove to a field on the campus and she got out of the car and he drove off.
In his closing speech for the prosecution Paul Burns SC told the jury that the man's garda interviews were self serving. He asked why the man had driven her to a “secluded field” and not the campus exit if she was “freaking out” at the lane-way.
He said the defendant's version of events didn't add up.
“He drives off leaving this girl in the middle of a field. A girl who is upset. Why would he do that?” he said.
Paul Flannery SC, defending, said that while his client wasn’t being particularly gentlemanly on the night, what he did was reasonable enough given the woman's hysterical reaction.
He said the defendant made no bones about what he was doing on Tinder and was upfront at all times with gardaí.
“If you're like me, you don't approve of men taking women out on Tinder for dates or sex. Neither sympathy for her or distaste for him is relevant,” he said.
Counsel told the jury that there were serious doubts about the credibility of the complainant's evidence. He asked the jurors if they could “seriously believe” her when she said she didn't understand words like “fuck” and “kiss”, used by the accused during their online conversations before the date.
He said that the complainant was aware that the man was looking for to meet up for sex. He said that didn't mean she was entitled to be sexually assaulted and that his client's case was that her version of events didn't happen.
Mr Burns told the jurors they might consider the complainant naïve, foolish and even stupid but that none of these gave anyone the right to attack her.
He said that simply agreeing to meet someone did not make them fair game. He said the complainant was not looking for sex and at no stage did she show an interest in meeting the man for sex.
“Everyone has the right to say no to sexual advances. No-one is entitled to force themselves on another,” he said.
Mr Burns said the complainant was a credible witness who had travelled halfway across the world and who had withstood prolonged and difficult cross-examination from the defence. He said she was subjected to a frightening and violent sexual assault.