A jury in the trial of three men accused of raping a woman in a hotel car park have heard closing speeches from counsel on behalf of two of the defendants.
At the Central Criminal Court, closing speeches were made on behalf of the first two defendants. The first defendant (22) who has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault.
A second defendant (23) has pleaded not guilty to rape, oral rape and two counts of sexual assault. A closing speech on behalf of the third defendant (23), who has pleaded not guilty to rape and oral rape, is due to be made on Thursday.
The offences are alleged to have occurred on December 20th, 2017 at a hotel car park in the Leinster area.
Defence counsel for both men submitted to the jury that there are inconsistencies in the complainant's evidence which may affect her credibility as a witness.
It was suggested by defence counsel that the complainant might want to distance herself from her actions on the night. Defence counsel highlighted to the jury that the parties involved were around 17 years old at the time.
In his closing speech, Michael O'Higgins SC, representing the first defendant, suggested to the jury that there is a plausible alternative to the version of events given by the complainant. He submitted that some of her evidence was “carefully constructed” and “untrue” and they must acknowledge this to be damaging to her credibility.
Garnet Orange SC, representing the second defendant, told the jury that the complainant's evidence “is on trial”.
He said it is a fact that there was sexual activity between his client and the complainant on the night in question, and they had to be satisfied that it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that she didn't consent.
“There are good grounds for considering that going for a drive is a euphemism for what happened that night in the car,” Mr Orange submitted to the jury. He suggested that there is no independent evidence to support the complainant's version of events.
Mr Orange asked the jury to consider if it is plausible the complainant was raped in succession by three men and didn't try to get away or raise the alarm using her phone.
He suggested the young men “took a risk” by bringing the complainant and her friend to the hotel car park. The men made no attempts to conceal their identities or remove evidence.
Mr Orange asked the jury to consider if the complainant was open to persuasion or “trying to cover her tracks” by “manipulating information or people's perceptions of her”.
He noted that social media apps were removed from her phone and the complainant didn't speak to gardaí until December 27th.
“She'd been raped in succession by three men she didn’t know, what on earth was there to think about?” Mr Orange asked the jury.
Mr Orange suggested to the jury that it is plausible that the complainant became aware of “whispers going on in the background” about her getting into the car with her friend and four young men, and she was concerned by this.
Mr Orange submitted to the jury that the word 'rape' gets used and it's “one of those words that can’t be unsaid”.
“Place yourself in the position of a 17-year-old girl who has possibly made a catastrophically bad decision,” he said. Mr Orange suggested there is an “easy solution which wipes slate clean” and the complainant “becomes a victim”.
He asked jurors to consider that a 17-year-old may have looked at the situation and tried “retrospectively to adjust the flow of information to suit the narrative she wants to explain”. Mr Orange submitted to the jury that it could reasonably conclude that this narrative of events is plausible.
Michael O'Higgins SC, representing the first defendant, said he is not “seriously challenging” the complainant's view that it was “a horrendous night”. Mr O'Higgins told the jury that three “separate and distinct” trials had been taking place at the same time. He suggested this puts his client “at a disadvantage”.
“My client is here to answer allegations made against him of wrongdoing. He’s not answerable for anything anyone else did,” Mr O'Higgins said.
He submitted his client's evidence wasn't “if you don't scream rape, there's consent,” but “no means no”. He asked the jury to consider his client's “very full answers that he would never have any form of sex with any girl when consent was not clear”.
Mr O'Higgins submitted no DNA evidence relating to his client was found, and this “supports the mechanics” of his client's version of events.
Mr O'Higgins said the defence are not making a case “that any of these fellas covered themselves with credit on the night in question”, but told the jury “this is a court of law, not morality”.
Mr O'Higgins submitted that there is a “particular set of circumstances” which “we say commences in a consensual way, unfolds in a particular way and it’s not rape”.
He suggested an alternative verdict of sexual assault may be open to the jury if they decide there was no consent for sexual activity.
Mr Orange told the jury they are not entitled to draw any inference from the fact that his client didn't give evidence, as is his right.
Defence counsel for both men told the jury they must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that their clients were aware the complainant hadn't consented to sexual activity or were reckless about this.
The trial continues on Thursday before Ms Justice Melanie Greally and the jury.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.