horror case | 

Midlands trial is the 'stuff of nightmares', Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO says

Four of the defendants, who were aged between 17 and 19 at the time, had denied all the charges.

Eduardo Dias Ferreira Filho (24) of Riverview, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath; Ethan Nikolaou (23) of Brosna Park, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath; Marcos Vinicius De Silva Umbelino (22) of Riverview, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath; and Gabriel Gomes Da Rocha (24) of Mount Armstrong, Rahan, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Pictures: Collins

Eoghan Moloney and Declan Brennan

The horrific court case of the four men found guilty of savagely sexually assaulting a woman in Tullamore is the “stuff of nightmares”, Noeline Blackwell, the CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has said.

A jury convicted four men of multiple sexual assaults yesterday, committed during what was described in court as the sexual assault of a teenage girl in a car more than five years ago.

In the early hours of the morning of December 27, 2016, the then 17-year-old girl got into a car with five men after she became separated from her friends at the end of a night-out in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

She asked for a lift to a place in the county but instead the car drove along back roads towards nearby Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath. During this journey the girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a number of men who groped and molested her.

The woman was crying and asked to leave the car but two of the men stopped her getting out of the car. One of these men raped her for a second time and another orally raped her.

One of the men Ethan Nikolaou (23) of Brosna Park, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, was convicted of sexually assaulting the girl on the journey between Tullamore and Kilbeggan and of sexually assaulting her at the spot in Kilbeggan.

After just under nine hours of deliberations the jury found the four defendants guilty of a number of charges.

Ms Blackwell said long traumatic trials for the victims in “terrible cases” like this were “all too common”.

“This is a terrible case, there was a long delay between when the offences took place and the court dates. Four people pleaded not guilty so it led to a four-week trial.

“It’s the stuff of nightmares, the stuff of one’s worst fears.

"This young woman now, from the time she was in her mid teens until now, has had to hold every single piece of evidence to the forefront of her mind and remember every single piece about it so that five years later she could come to court and talk about things she must only want to forget and put behind her to get on with the rest of her life.

“It’s a horrific experience. I think we have to recognise that if the judge said the jurors had heard some harrowing evidence, so much so, that she would excuse them from further duty…the harrowing nature of the evidence has been with that young woman since the awful events happened,” Ms Blackwell told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

The defendants, who were aged between 17 and 19 at the time, had denied all the charges.

Their lawyers had told the jury that it was their position that some of the alleged sexual acts never took place and that any that did were believed by their clients to be consensual.

A fifth man, Conor Byrne (24) of Ballybeg, Moate, Co Westmeath, was due to go on trial with the other men but pleaded guilty at the last minute to raping the girl on the night.

In his garda interviews in March 2018, Gabriel Gomes Da Rocha accepted that he and the others had taken advantage of the girl and that it wasn't right.

He agreed with a submission that the men became horny and that they all went “too far”. He said that he would like to tell her “sorry please forgive us”.

The woman testified that she became upset when the sexual assaults began in the back of the moving car and tried to push the men's hands off her.

She said after the first rape in the parked car she froze up and felt like she was inanimate.

Ms Blackwell said that things are starting to change around the support victims of sexual assault are receiving but “far too slowly”.

“We have to be glad that we do have a justice system that recognises and prosecutes rape and non-consensual sex.

"We have to be grateful that the justice system recognises non-consensual sex and that you’re not expected to scream and it’s not just about physical force if resisted.

“In sexual offence trials, there is the reality that victims cannot get on with their lives during the trial in the same way you would if your car was stolen.

"There’s a particular difficulty with sexual offence trials.

“There are moves underway and the justice system is beginning to recognise the horrific nature of sexual offence crimes for victims and the Minister for Justice is committed to changing things, but it’s all happening very slowly as you are turning a big ship and that system is still nowhere near fit for purpose,” Ms Blackwell said.

The driver on the night, Marcos Vinicius De Silva Umbelino (22) of Riverview, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman by groping and molesting her on the journey. He was also convicted of raping her at Harbour Road.

Eduardo Dias Ferreira Filho (24) of Riverview, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, was convicted of sexually assaulting her on the initial journey. He was convicted of orally raping the girl at the Whitehall car-park.

Gabriel Gomes Da Rocha (24) of Mount Armstrong, Rahan, Tullamore, Co Offaly, was convicted of sexually assaulting the girl on the car journey out of town. He was also found guilty of raping her in the car at the remote spot and again at Whitehall car-park at the same time as Ferreira Filho forced his penis into her mouth.

Da Rocha and Ferreira Filho were convicted of falsely imprisoning the girl in the car at Whitehall. The woman told the jury that she when she asked to leave the car at this point one of the men told her “not until we get our threesome” and that the two men in the backseat stopped her getting out.

Ethan Nikolaou (23) of Brosna Park, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, was convicted of sexually assaulting the girl on the journey between Tullamore and Kilbeggan and of sexually assaulting her at the spot in Kilbeggan.

A fifth man, Conor Byrne (24) of Ballybeg, Moate, Co Westmeath, was due to go on trial with the other men but pleaded guilty at the last minute to raping the girl on the night.

The jury returned not guilty verdicts on a number of the charges. All verdicts were unanimous.


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