Taxi driver questioned after student (20) alleges rape in Phoenix Park
Woman claims she was assaulted in car driving her home from Dublin nightclub
A woman in her 20s has reported to gardaí that she was assaulted in Phoenix Park in Dublin. File Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times
Gardaí have seized a Dublin taxi for a forensic examination after a college student alleged she was raped by the driver who was bringing her from a popular night club in the city.
The alleged rape occurred in the Phoenix Park, north Dublin, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The 20-year-old woman was travelling in a taxi from the Copper Face Jacks nightclub on Harcourt Street in the south inner city towards Dublin City University (DCU) on Collins Avenue, Whitehall, north Dublin, when the cab took a route via the park.
The vehicle stopped in the area of the Wellington Monument at around 1.30am where the woman claimed she was raped and falsely imprisoned by the taxi driver in his car.
The man, who is from Dublin, has claimed he had consensual sex with the student. He claimed he gave the young woman his phone number and then drove her to her destination at the student accommodation at DCU.
Immediately on alighting from the taxi, she sought out security guards working on the campus and raised the alarm.
When the matter was reported to gardaí, the taxi driver’s mobile phone number had been entered into the woman’s phone and gardaí were in a position to contact him.
The woman has told gardaí the driver put his own telephone number into her phone.
The man’s car has since been taken for forensic examination as part of the investigation. A statement has been taken from the alleged attacker.
Gardaí have also spoken to a number of other witnesses and the issue of the woman being too inebriated to consent looks likely to be a key feature in determining the outcome of the criminal investigation.
The woman is said to be very distraught and underwent an examination at the sexual assault unit of the Rotunda Hospital in the hours following the event.
Reacting to the news of the allegation, the Union of Students in Ireland and the Rape Crisis Network Ireland said it was vital people would never be afraid to report a rape.
USI’s deputy vice president of welfare Denise McCarthy said it was important students understood that “having sex with someone who cannot consent because they are too drunk or are in fear, is rape”.
It is never the fault of the victim even if they have been drinking or taking drugs. It is important that victims feel that they can report an incident no matter what the context, she added.
Director of the rape crisis network Fiona Neary said taxi drivers often dealt with people who were vulnerable and while the law was there to safeguard against criminal behaviour, other forms of conduct by drivers should also be reported.
“(It) is important to note that conduct that is inappropriate but not necessarily criminal should also be reported. We would urge anyone who has felt uncomfortable or feel that the taxi driver was inappropriate, particularly sexually, to make a complaint.”