The trial of four men alleged to have raped a teenage girl “one after another” has opened in the Central Criminal Court.
The four, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have all pleaded not guilty to raping the then 17-year-old girl at a location in the midlands on December 27th, 2016.
The first accused (22) has also pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one count of false imprisonment. The second accused (24) has also pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault, one count of oral rape and one count of false imprisonment.
The third defendant (24) has also pleaded not guilty to an additional count of rape, two counts of sexual assault and one count of false imprisonment. The fourth accused (23) has also pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual assault.
All of the offending is alleged to have been committed at various locations in the midlands on the same date against the same woman when the accused were aged between 17 and 19. The trial is expected to last six weeks and will take place in Croke Park.
Opening the case before the jury on Monday, Lorcan Staines SC, prosecuting, said that on the date in question, the complainant had been in a nightclub in a midlands town when she became separated from her friends in the early hours of the morning.
He said her phone had fallen into a toilet earlier in the night and had been badly damaged or broken, causing her to have difficulty communicating thereafter.
Counsel said taxis were hard to come by and, at around 4am, the complainant began walking down the street when she encountered the four accused in a car with a fifth man, who is not before the courts in this trial.
Mr Staines said the first accused had driven to pick up the other men, who had been in the same nightclub as the complainant. He told the jury they will hear evidence that the men had been doing laps of the town in the car and calling to people on the street.
Mr Staines told the jury they would hear evidence that the men called to the complainant and she got into the car. He said the complainant was expecting to be dropped to the area in which she lived, but was instead brought to another location.
Counsel said the prosecution case is that while on the way to this location, two of the men sexually assaulted the woman while she was in the back of the car and two of them sexually assaulted her after she moved to the front of the vehicle.
He said the prosecution alleges that when they arrived at the location, “one after another” the four accused and the fifth man had sexual intercourse with the complainant, amounting to rape. He said the fourth accused was also alleged to have sexually assaulted her at this time.
Mr Staines said the jury will also hear evidence that during the alleged ordeal, some of those who were engaging in the alleged offences took photos and videos of what was happening, some of which ended up on Snapchat, but none of which have been recovered despite the best efforts of gardaí.
Counsel said the fourth accused and the fifth man were dropped off, but that the complainant was driven back to the town with the three remaining accused. He said when they arrived, the complainant, who had been crying, asked to leave the car but was not allowed to leave.
He said the third man again raped her at this location, while the second man orally raped her at the same time having already sexually assaulted her. Mr Staines said it is the State's case that the complainant's liberty was restricted at this time and the men acted together to falsely imprison her.
Mr Staines said she was ultimately allowed to leave and ran from the car. He said she met with a friend to whom she had managed to send a message on Facebook using the phone of the first accused.
Counsel said she was “balling crying and shivering” when she met with her friend at around 5.30am and that by 6.15am they had arrived at a Garda station.
He said she was brought to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit where she was examined by a doctor.
The trial continues on Tuesday before Justice Tara Burns and a jury of five women and seven men.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.