Thursday 22 August 2019

Woman allegedly sexually assaulted by man she met on Tinder was distressed and had no idea where she was, court hears

The UCD campus
The UCD campus
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A DOG walker who came to the aid of a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by a man she met through Tinder has told a jury the woman was distressed, had no idea where she was and she just "wanted to go home".

Criona Cullen was walking her dogs in UCD when the woman approached her and asked for her help.

Ms Cullen told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the young woman, an English language student, had poor English but tried to explain to her what had happened.

She said the young woman told her she had met a man on Tinder who brought her by car to the location and she did not know where she was.

Ms Cullen said the woman claimed the man had tried to have sex with her, she did not want it and managed to get away.

The 36-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty to the sexual assault of the woman at the UCD campus at Belfield on July 23, 2014.

Ms Cullen said she explained to the woman that she was in UCD, on the southside of the city.

The woman told her she wanted to go home, and Ms Cullen said she'd help her. The pair walked to the front entrance of UCD and Ms Cullen quickly hailed a taxi for the woman.

Ms Cullen said the woman did not have money, but she was insistent she would be able to pay for the taxi when she got home.

The jury was shown CCTV of the woman approaching Ms Cullen, and the pair talking for some minutes.

Cross examined by Paul Flannery SC, Ms Cullen said all she remembered of the woman's dress was that it was "very ordinary" and "old fashioned".

A flatmate of the alleged victim told the court she called him that night and told him something "very serious" had happened and she'd tell him when she got home.

She said she needed money for a taxi, and asked him to get her purse. He then went outside to wait for the taxi to arrive home.

In his evidence, he said his flatmate seemed "really scared and afraid" and told him that a "guy had tried to rape her".

A welfare officer in the English language school which the woman attended gave evidence that the woman came into her office on July 24, 2014.

She said the woman told her she had been using Tinder to meet new people and improve her English.

She said the woman told her she'd gone for coffee with a man she met on Tinder the previous night. She'd gotten into his car, a blue BMW, and he'd driven to a secluded area. She said the car door was locked and she was afraid she would be raped.

She also showed the welfare officer a picture of her alleged attacker, the court heard.

In his evidence, Sergeant Denis Ellard said gardai brought the woman to UCD, and she identified an area at the playing pitches as the location where she had been sexually assaulted.

Duty manager for UCD estates, Liam Corcoran told the court that UCD has the ANPR - automatic number plate recognition - system in place, and gardai asked him to track the movements of a blue BMW car on the campus.

Mr Corcoran said he downloaded CCTV footage as well as stills of the ANPR system and handed them to gardai.

The woman, now aged 35, previously told the trial that after six weeks of communicating with the man on Tinder she agreed to meet him.

He picked her up in his car and drove her to a green area on the UCD campus. The woman testified he then “changed completely”, becoming aggressive and sexually assaulting her.

She told gardai: “I thought we were going for coffee. He leaned over and placed his hand at the back of my neck. He touched the side of my legs.

“He was shouting at me, you f*cking b*tch. He was angry. I was in fear of my life. I thought he was going to rape me. I tried to open the doors but they were locked."

She added: “He was trying to restrain me by holding one of my arms.”

The trial continues before Judge Cormac Quinn and a jury of six men and six women.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News