Investigation | 

Men suspected of serious sex assaults on Sligo teens threatened gardaí with attack dog

The alleged assaults took place at two separate locations in Sligo town last Saturday night between 8pm and 10pm

Garda car parked outside St Mary's GAA grounds at Ballydoogan, Sligo. Pic: Donal Hackett.

Ali Bracken

The men suspected of carrying out serious sexual assaults on two teenage girls in Sligo last weekend previously threatened to use a command dog to “attack” gardaí.

The alleged assaults took place at two separate locations in Sligo town last Saturday night between 8pm and 10pm. The sexual violence is at “the higher end of the scale,” it is understood.

The locations, St Mary’s GAA grounds on the Ballydoogan Road and a nearby house on Oakfield Road, have been the subject of forensic and DNA examinations.

Gardaí hope the results of these examinations will assist the investigation team.

The Sunday World understands the male suspects, in their 20s and who live locally, are well known to gardaí. In one incident last year, the suspects threatened to release an “attack dog” on officers who called to their Sligo home in relation to an alleged criminal offence.

“These men live locally for a number of years. They have not been arrested. They are believed to be involved in drug dealing and once threatened gardaí with an attack dog,” said a well-placed source.

Gardaí are examining how the children came into contact with the men and ended up back in a house with them. They are also examining a video of the teenage girls in the aftermath of the alleged attacks, as well as beforehand, which was posted online.

Because of the girls’ young age they must be interviewed by specialist child interviewers.

These interviews are conducted by trained detectives amid strict protocols in order to protect the well-being of the children.

Sources insist this process cannot be rushed and that a series of meetings with relevant people have to take place before formal statements from the alleged victims can be taken.

A source added: “The reason there have been no arrests is because of the sensitive nature of how gardaí must rightly deal with these child victims, in conjunction with other agencies.

“After their statements are fully examined, as well as all the other evidence collated and other potential witness statements taken, only then will there be a move in terms of making arrests. We know exactly where the suspects are if and when we get to that point.”

There are at least two child interviewers in the Sligo/Leitrim Division, who have considerable experience, and they have been drafted in to assist in this case.

Under Irish law, juveniles aged 16 or younger are not legally old enough to give consent to a sexual act, regardless of whether force or pressure was applied on them.

Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses who were in the area last Saturday night, or anyone who has information in relation to the incidents, to contact them.

In particular they are asking for anyone who was in the Ballydoogan, Oakfield and Maugheraboy areas of Slig o.

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