Jury disagrees with verdict in hotel car park rape trial – The Irish Times

A jury has failed to reach verdicts in a rape trial against three young men who say they had consensual sex with a teenage girl in a car six years ago.

It was the state’s case that the then 17-year-old girl was successively raped by each of the defendants in a car in a hotel parking lot after taking them for a walk. The three defendants, aged 17 and 18, denied any wrongdoing.

After a three-week trial in Central Criminal Court and a deliberation of just over nine hours, the jury of six men and six women announced on Wednesday Judge Melanie Greally that no verdict could be reached.

Judge Greally instructed the jury Tuesday afternoon that it could accept a majority verdict agreed by ten or more jurors.

Just after 2 p.m On Wednesday afternoon, she told jurors they were free to return disagreements if they each came to a final position on the charges and ten or more of them disagreed. About 15 minutes later, the jury returned to the courtroom and found unanimous on all eight counts.

The first accused (22) had pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault. A second defendant (23) had pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, oral rape and two counts of sexual assault.

The third defendant (23) had pleaded not guilty to rape and oral rape. The offenses are said to have occurred on 20 December 2017 in a hotel car park in the Leinster area, when two of the accused were 17, one had just turned 18 and the applicant was 17.

Judge Greally adjourned the case until next April 28 for mention.

In her closing speech, prosecutor Alice Fawsitt SC said that the applicant’s evidence was that she refused the defendants’ requests for sex and that they did not listen to her. Ms Fawsitt suggested that the defendants thought the woman “consented to the sex” as soon as she got in the car, but the complainant believed they were going for a drive.

“Getting in a car with four guys is not consenting to having sex with one, two or three of them,” she said.

In her closing remarks, the defense counsel pointed out that there were contradictions in the applicant’s testimony, which affected her credibility as a witness.

In his closing statement, Michael O’Higgins SC, who defended the first defendant, said his client’s evidence was not “if you don’t scream rape, there is consent” but “no means no”. He told the jury there was a “special set of circumstances” that “we say begins in a consensual manner, unfolds in a certain manner, and is not rape.”

Garnet Orange SC, who defended the second defendant, argued that the prosecution’s case against his client had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He asked if it was plausible that the woman had been raped by three men in a row and hadn’t tried to get away.

Mr Orange asked the jury to introduce herself as “a 17-year-old girl who may have made a disastrously bad decision”. He suggested there is a “simple solution that wipes the board clean.”

Mr Nicholas SC, who defended the third accused, said it would be “unfair” to distill his client’s evidence to the effect that “if she doesn’t scream, it’s not rape”. He suggested that the woman didn’t take any chances to save because “there was nothing to save.”

Mr Nicholas suggested the woman “regretted” the events of that night “but it wasn’t a rape”.

Under the Rape Act 1981, anyone accused of rape is entitled to anonymity pending conviction. The complainant retains the right to anonymity at all times, unless she waives this right and nothing that would identify her may be published.

The trial has been going on since March before the Central Criminal Court.

https://www.irishtimes.com/crime-law/courts/2023/04/05/jury-fails-to-agree-verdict-in-trial-over-alleged-rape-in-hotel-car-park/ Jury disagrees with verdict in hotel car park rape trial – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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