We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Leah Farrell
midlands rape trial

Witnesses tell rape trial that woman was 'distraught' and her skirt was 'torn' after leaving car

A witness, who was a friend of the complainant, told the court today that she kept saying “there was six of them, there was nothing she could do”.

A WOMAN WHO says she was raped by five men in a car in the Midlands was shouting, distraught, crying and looked traumatised when eventually she freed herself and was able to return to her friends, a trial has heard.

Giving evidence today, a witness who was a friend of the complainant said that when he met her in the early hours of 27 December 2016, “she looked shaken – she was crying [and] she kept on saying there was six of them, there was nothing she could do”.

Another witness said the woman’s skirt was “fairly torn . . . it wasn’t even fully on”.

The first witness, who like all others cannot be named to protect the identity of the woman, was giving evidence at the trial of four men at the Central Criminal Court where they face 18 counts of sexual assault, rape and false imprisonment.

All have pleaded not guilty.

A fifth man is not before the court.

None of the men can be identified for legal reasons, nor any locations or other details that might lead to the woman being identified.

The first witness told the trial presided over by Ms Justice Tara Burns, and the jury of five woman and seven men, that he was in a friend’s house when one of them received Facebook messages on their phone from the woman, in whose company they had been earlier that night.

Over several exchanges, she asked urgently for their address and instructions as to how to get there. At one stage, they spoke to her.

“She had a bit of panic in her voice,” a witness told the trial.

After the messages, the first witness and one of the friends at the house went outside to see if they could meet the woman coming towards the property.

They heard her shouting – “it sounded distraught, crying”, said the first witness.

When they met the woman, “she looked traumatised” and her clothes were not properly on her, he said. It was clear from what she said initially “that some kind of assault had happened”, he said.

Describing the same scene, the friend said in evidence that the woman was “in shock”.

“She’d no make-up on. Her hair was everywhere. She was in complete shock. We quickly found out what had happened,” the friend said in evidence.

Without saying precisely what had happened to her, the friend said in evidence that the woman “kept saying ‘I couldn’t stop them’”.

“I didn’t know what [had happened] but I knew [it was] something bad,” said the witness.

He also described events in a Midland town late on St Stephen’s Day 2016 and into the early hours of the 27th. He and friends had been out in pubs, a nightclub and at some fast food outlets.

He described leaning against the window sill of a building on the opposite side of the road to a fast food outlet after he, the woman and some others had got food and were eating it.

He noticed a blue saloon VW Passat, with “kind of a boy racer look about it”, going up and down the road. The car was “fairly packed”, he said, and the front and passenger near side windows were down.

People in the car were shouting at anybody.

“They seemed to be shouting for attention,” said the first witness.

He said in evidence that the driver’s eye contact seemed to be directed towards the woman, who was standing with him and their friends by the window sill. Cross examined by Brendan Grehan, SC, for one of the accused, the witness agreed that he had not said this in his statement to Gardaí.

“I’m suggesting it is something that came into your head out of nowhere,” said Grehan.

“It may have been a poor choice of words,” said the witness.

Continuing his evidence, the witness said that after eating their food at the window sill, the group had gone their separate ways.

Another witness gave evidence and described the same incident. The VW car had passed up and down “three or four times”, he said, the occupants shouting stuff and “basically trying to get noticed”.

They were “doing laps” in the car which had tinted windows.

“At the time, we didn’t take much notice – just laughed at it,” said the second witness.

The first witness said that when the woman was brought into the house she described what had happened to her.

They then took screenshot photographs of the Facebook message exchange but the phone of the sender, identified in court as one of the accused, had since blocked access to the phone to which the messages had been sent.

The woman’s friends then used a laptop of someone else in the house who had not been blocked to check the Facebook profile of the sender of the messages. They saw that a photograph on that person’s Facebook account “was the exact car that we had seen that night”, said the first witness.

A number of the witnesses said that the woman was not drunk either at the end of the night’s socialising, or in the immediate aftermath of what she alleges happened to her.

Several also gave evidence that the woman was initially reluctant to go to Gardaí, despite her friends’ urgings, because she did not want to upset her parents.

However, friends accompanied her to a Garda station soon after she arrived at the house. She spoke to police and was taken to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) in Mullingar Hospital where she was reunited with them, received medical attention and gardaí took possession of evidence.

The trial continues before the jury on Friday.