Three men go on trial accused of rape

Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 01:00

THREE YOUNG men have gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court accused of raping a woman in the back of a van in Cork three years ago. The accused were 15, 16 and 18 at the time of the alleged gang rape. The victim was 31.

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

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 13th, 2009. They are now 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 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 the men were driving around in a white van with a mattress in the back at about 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.

In evidence the woman told Mr McCarthy that she had been on a night out with friends and 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. The last thing she remembered was talking to a drunken girl at a pub at about 2am. She said the next thing she was aware of was being in the back of the van.

The woman said there was one man sitting beside her and that they stopped after driving for about 10 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 man stood in front of her and became increasingly agitated and rougher. She thought about biting him. She said she was very drunk and very scared. She said she gave in and he raped her orally. This man went away and another one came and pushed her down and lay on top of her, she alleged.

She said he was making “sex noises”. She said he thought he was having sex with her but he didn’t penetrate her.

She said between these two attacks the other woman took her own underwear off and rubbed herself against the alleged victim.

The jury was 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 gardaí.

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.

In cross-examination Blaise O’Carroll SC, defending, asked the woman if her memory was reliable, given the state of her sobriety at the time.

She replied: “There are a lot of blurry things but I seem to remember bits.” She said she was certain there was a woman in the van with the men.