Midlands rape trial hears evidence from defendant's father

A father of one of the defendants told the trial he saw his son return home in the car on the morning in question
Midlands rape trial hears evidence from defendant's father

Declan Brennan

The father of one of four young men accused of “gang raping” a teenage girl in a car has told their trial that he saw a girl in the car and did not see her trying to get out.

The four men have pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to raping the then 17-year-old girl in the early hours of December 27th, 2016.

The girl got into a car with the men in the early hours of that morning in a midlands town. It is the prosecution's case that the four defendants each sexually assaulted her as the car was driven out of the town.

The car was driven to a remote location nearby and it is alleged three of the defendants, and another man who is not on trial, raped her in turn at this location.

The jury has heard that two of the defendants were later dropped off at a house back in the town and the car was driven to another location.

The woman has said she asked to be let out of the car but was ignored, and that one of men raped her for the second time at the same time as the other man forced his penis into her mouth.

The defendants, who aged between 17 and 19 at the time, deny all the charges. Neither they nor the complainant can be identified under the 1981 Rape Act.

Direction

On Thursday morning, Justice Tara Burns told the jury that she was directing the jury to return a verdict of not guilty on the charge of rape at this location against one of the men, who still faces a separate charge of orally raping the girl at another location later in the night.

Lorcan Staines SC, prosecuting, told the jury this charge should not have been on the indictment in circumstances where the complainant said she was unsure whether there were four or five men who had sex with her in the first location. He said this was an error on his part.

The father of one of the two men who were dropped off after the car came back to the midlands town gave evidence to the trial on Thursday morning, telling the court he gets up at 4.30am every day to get ready to go to work at 6am.

He told Hugh Harnett SC, defending his son, that on the morning of December 27th, 2016, he was up like every morning and noticed his son was not home. He called his son but the phone “was dead”, adding he then showered, said some prayers and made his bed.

He said he then heard a car pulling up outside, with the passenger side of the car nearest the house. He said he saw his son's friend sitting “squashed” in the front seat and somebody sitting on top of him looking away.

He said his son got out of the back of the car and went to the front passenger seat and started talking to his friend. He said the other person in the front moved into the back.

The father added that another man got out of the back of the car and was standing on the pavement and he saw “a girl reaching out, grabbing the door and pulling it closed”.

Counsel asked the witness if he saw the girl get our of the car, to which he replied: "No, she moved within the car."

Cross-examination

Under cross-examination by Mr Staines, the man agreed he was present for the whole of the trial and had heard the evidence of the complainant. He agreed his account of this particular episode at the house was in dispute with her account.

Mr Staines asked him did he speak to his son after seeing him at the car, to which the witness said: “I went for a shower, I went in to get changed”. He said when he came out of the shower his son's bedroom door was closed.

He added that he saw him later that day after he came home from work and asked him “did you have a good time” but that was all.

“He went out, he didn't do anything but went out,” the witness said, adding that was the only conversation he had with his son.

He said gardaí came to the house later that day and his son was “under a lot of stress”. He said there was not much of a conversation when his son returned from the Garda station later that evening.

Asked to recall what was said, he told the jury: “I can't remember having a conversation.” Asked again, he added that he did ask his son why the gardaí were at the house.

He said his son told him he had a few drinks and they gave a girl a lift and she asked them if she could stay the night somewhere as she had had a fight with her friend. He said there was no mention of any sexual activity.

Mr Staines put it to the witness that he told the jury he did not have a conversation with his son, “when in fact you did”. The man said he had misunderstood the earlier question and said he had a short conversation with his son.

In other evidence a paediatric consultant told Mr Harnett that in August 2017 he had treated the defendant for a condition affecting the skin of his penis. He said the condition would make having an erection “very painful” and would also make masturbation difficult.

He said it was progressive and in this estimation it was present for three to four years previously and the associated difficulties would have gone back a considerable period of time.

Under cross-examination, he told Mr Staines he was not informed of what the patient had told gardaí in relation to the criminal allegations.

Mr Staines asked the witness about the defendant's account of being in a nightclub earlier on the night of the alleged rapes in which the accused said he was “turned on” grinding against the girl, adding that he experienced “pre-ejaculate” discharge.

The consultant said this would "be very painful” and “I don't think he would have done that”.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns and a jury.

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