Sunday 19 November 2017

Three on trial after alleged gang rape in back of van in Cork

Declan Brennan

THREE men have gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court accused of raping a woman in the back of a van three years ago.

The accused were aged 15, 16 and 18 at the time of the alleged gang rape. The alleged victim was aged 31.

The men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have each pleaded not guilty to four charges, namely the rape, oral rape, attempted rape and sexual assault of a woman at an unknown location in Cork on September 13, 2009. They are now aged 19, 19 and 21.

One of the men has pleaded guilty to stealing the woman's car from outside her home on the night.

Opening the trial, prosecuting counsel Patrick McCarthy SC told the jury that it is the State’s case that the three accused were involved in a prior agreement to take part in a criminal enterprise.

He said they will hear evidence that the men were driving around in a white van with a mattress in the back at around 3am when they met the alleged victim and that they picked her up and drove her to a more remote location where she was raped, sexually assaulted and assaulted.

The woman told the court that she heard one man shouting “hi-dee-ho” during the alleged attack. She said there was a woman inside the back of the van “watching everything” and egging the men on.

The woman told Mr McCarthy that she had being on a night out with friends and that she couldn't remember how she ended up in the back of a van with the four strangers.

She said she had drunk a lot and was drunk. She said the last thing she remembers is talking to a drunken girl at a pub at around 2am. She said the next thing she was aware of was being in the back of the van.

She said there was one man sitting beside her and that they stopped after driving for about ten minutes. She said others then got into the back and she became scared and realised she was outnumbered.

She said the four people had Traveller accents. She said one men and then another sexually assaulted her.

The jury were shown photographs of bruising to the woman's hands, arms and thighs. The woman said she received these bruises as a result of struggling with her alleged attackers. She said her clothes and underwear were pulled off her.

She said at one stage the men went through her handbag and found her car keys and became interested in her car and asked her for her address. She said she didn't know where she was so she told the men her address so that they would drive her home.

She described this as making a “pact with the devil”.

She said she tried to get them to drop her off before her house so that they wouldn't know which house was hers. She said they wanted her car so they stopped right at her house.

By the time she had gone into her house the van and her Toyota Yaris were gone. She immediately told a friend what had happened and they alerted gardai.

She denied a suggestion from Timothy O'Leary SC, defending, that she had consensual sex with one of the men.

She said: “I had been fighting him off; I think that pretty much says no. I remember pushing him away. I remember telling someone to get away from me. I said no at some stage.”

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of seven women and five men. It is set to last up to two weeks.

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