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'wrong' One of five men accused of rape told gardaí that alleged victim was 'taken advantage of'

The victim alleged she was picked up four years ago in the midlands before men raped her 'one after another'

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Central Criminal Court in Dublin

Central Criminal Court in Dublin

Central Criminal Court in Dublin

One of five men accused of raping a teenage girl in a car in the midlands four years ago told gardai that what happened to her was wrong and she was taken advantage of, a trial has heard.

It is the prosecution case that the 17-year-old girl got into a car with the men in the early hours of the morning and was driven to a location in the midlands where five men raped her “one after another”.

Four of the men are on trial at the Central Criminal Court and have pleaded not guilty to raping the then 17-year-old girl on the night of December 27, 2016. A fifth man is not before the court.

The four men also face additional charges of sexual assaulting the woman while three of the defendants are also charged with false imprisonment of the girl. The men are now aged between 22 and 24 and cannot be identified under the 1981 Rape Act. They deny all the charges.

On day eleven of the trial the jury heard details of five garda interviews of the fourth accused over the course of two days in March 2017.

The defendant, who was 18 at the time, said he had seen the woman on the footpath of a midlands town and he called out her name and asked if she wanted a lift. He said he knew the woman from Tinder and had sent a message to her but she had not replied and he had never met her in person or spoken to her.

He said the woman got into the back of the car and asked if she could be dropped home. He said he and another of the men asked the driver to drop her straight home but she insisted she wanted to go with them to another location provided she was dropped home after that.

He said he had a feeling something was going to happen and felt she should just be dropped home. He said he felt uncomfortable because the complainant had been kissing his friend in the back and had moved to the front of the car and was kissing another of the accused.

He repeatedly denied that she gave him “a handjob” while she was in the back seat and the car was travelling out of town. At the start of the sixth interview he told gardaí that this did happen and that he ejaculated in the back seat.

Asked why he had earlier lied about it, he said he did not remember in his earlier interviews. He agreed that the woman had been "grabbed and groped" by all of those in the car, that “you were all feeling her” and “she was telling you all to stop”.

He also agreed that “she didn't want any of you to touch her” and she grabbed the hand of the driver, who was reaching from the front to touch her and said stop and “get your hand away”.

Asked was “it fair to say you took advantage of her” he replied “after hearing her say stop possibly yeah”.

He said he would describe her treatment in the back seat as “not good”. He said she was lying across the three men and he began rubbing her privates over her underwear.

He said she didn't ask him to do that, and asked “why did you do it” he replied “I don't know” and said he didn't think it was right.

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“Did you know at that stage you taken advantage of her”, gardai asked the accused. He replied “yeah we had a fair idea when she got into the front”, referring to her moving into the front seat.

He said that when they got to a location out of town he left the car and the woman was kissing the front seat passenger and giving him a "handjob". When he returned to the car he saw this man having sex with her. He said she had sex with another of the passengers and he was not sure if the driver of the car had sex with her but he had seen them kissing.

He said that he and the others were outside the car and thought it was weird that the driver was inside the car watching the sexual activity throughout. He said he started to get a feeling that “it wasn't ok”.

Asked if it was rape he told gardai “I just didn't get to hear if she consented or not in the car”. He also said “it crossed my mind but I honestly don't know”

He said that later on she was sitting half out of the car and was asking where they were all from. He said she was “looking at me in a certain way so I went into the front seat”.

He said he was on top of her with his trousers down but only kissed her for 15 to 20 seconds and then got out. He said he did not think it was a good idea to have sex and he was not comfortable. He said it did not feel right "moving from one mate to another".

“I realised I shouldn't have sex with her, it wouldn't be right”. Asked why he thought “it wasn't right” he told gardai “she was lying there defenceless” when he got into the car.

“I got the feeling I knew not to have sex with her and I’m glad I didn’t," he said. He agreed that there was “nothing normal” about the scenario where they were “lining up to have sex while one fellow sits in the car watching”.

Asked was he concerned personally about what you did he said “a small bit yeah”. Asked if he knew “what you did was wrong, what you all did” he replied “yeah”.

He agreed that it could have "been a little bit" of a scary situation for the woman. After viewing CCTV footage of the woman leaving the car gardai asked him it it seemed like she “was having a good time” and he replied “not after seeing the video of her running away."

Hugh Harnett SC, defending, put it to the garda that his client's admissions of being masturbated by the woman in the back of car came after persistent denials over four interviews.

He said the recording of the interview containing the admissions began 16 minutes after his client and gardai had entered the interview room. Mr Harnett submitted that the admission “came out of the blue” and he wanted to know “what happened in those 16 minutes that brought about such a rapid and controversial change of mind”.

The investigating garda replied that throughout the preceding interviews the suspect had drip fed information and disclosures to them. He said the delay in beginning the sixth interview was caused by the time taken to set things up in the interview and that such delays were unavoidable.

The defendant also told gardai that on the drive back into town one of the men who had sex with the woman said to him that “what we just did could be rape or sexual assault”. He said they were sitting in the back of the car and “he only said it to me”.

He told gardaí “I didn't pay much heed to it” as “all I did was kiss her”. He said this in an earlier interview before he admitted being masturbated by the woman.

He said that he and others met the following day after hearing that gardai had arrested the driver of the car. He said “we were just talking about who had sex with her” and said “we were worried” because the driver had been brought into the garda station.

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

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