The jury have failed to reach verdicts in the trial of three Dublin men accused of raping a woman in a car.
The three Dublin men, who are now in their early 20s and who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to raping a woman at Bull Island, Dollymount, Dublin, on January 5, 2016.
The trial heard that three men were all teenagers when they drove the then 18-year-old woman to Dollymount Strand were they are alleged to have raped her one after the other. The defendants say that the woman consented to all sexual activity and had initiated sex.
On day 29 of the trial, the jury indicated that they were unable to reach a verdict on any count after deliberating for five and a half hours.
Mr Justice Alexander Owens said he wished to express his gratitude on behalf of the judiciary and the people of Ireland to the jury for their service.
Mr Justice Owens said that these have been exceptional circumstances due to the events of the past few weeks and that he would exempt the jury from future service for longer than would normally happen in a trial like this. He exempted them from jury service for a period of 15 years.
He remanded the three men on continuing bail and adjourned the matter to June 15 next.
During the trial, the woman testified that on the night of the alleged rapes she met the defendants, who she didn't know, in an internet cafe in the city centre. She said they told her they were going for a drive and would bring her back to where she was.
She said she did not want to go at first, but agreed to go for a walk and got into the car with the three men. She said that the car ended up in the “middle of nowhere” and was “out at the sea”.
The woman said the men then raped her. She said she felt horrible, shocked and disgusted. She said her door had a child lock on it and she could not get out of the car the whole time she was there.
She said she was told that another person was going to pick her up and bring her home. She said the car headed off very quickly.
Another car arrived containing three different men, and she was raped by two of the men in this car, the woman told the trial. She said that these men all got back into their car afterwards, laughed and drove away, leaving her in the middle of nowhere.
None of the men who she said arrived in the second car is before the court.
Giving evidence during the trial, one of the accused men said that the complainant was trying to ruin his life, that he has never disrespected a woman and never would.
Ms Lawlor put it to the man that he never thought a homeless woman who was addicted to tablets would follow this case through. He rejected this suggestion, said nothing happened to the woman and that she was treated with nothing but respect by himself and his “two gentlemen friends”.
He accepted that he put her number in his phone alongside the word “slut”.
In his direct evidence this accused said that on the date in question, he was in an internet cafe in Dublin city centre with the other defendants when the woman came into the back room.
He said he had never met her before that date and that she asked to go for a “spin” in his car and said she had no problem with “doing” the three of them. He said the four of them got into his car and she suggested that they go to Dollymount.
The court heard the man entered the woman's name in his phone with a letter and then the word “slut”. He agreed with his counsel that was not a nice name and commented that he was not going to call her and bring her on a date after she had sex with him and two of his friends.
'Are we going to have some fun?
The woman testified that after stopping the car the driver said “are we going to have some fun?”
She said that the three men got out of the car and then the man who had been in the front passenger seat got in beside her. He asked were they going to do anything and she said no.
She said the man pulled down his trousers, put on a condom and pulled down her trousers. She said she did not want to do anything and he got on top of her and put his penis inside her vagina.
The woman said that after the man was finished, he left the car and the another man came over. She said she did not want to go through that again before this man put on a condom and raped her.
She said that after the second man was finished, he called over his friend and handed him a condom. The third man then pushed himself on her, kissed her and raped her. She said she did not consent to it.
Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, prosecuting, told the jury that the woman was “a target” on the night in question in a way that someone with greater supports in their life might not have been.
Ms Lawlor said it was put to the woman that she was someone who did not know the difference between consensual sex or rape. She told the jury that unfortunately the woman knew exactly what the difference was between having consensual sex and being raped.
'Each of the three believed there was consent'
In her closing speech to the jury, Caroline Biggs SC, defending one of the men, said it was easy to say “I have been raped” but it was not so easy to back up the allegation.
Ms Biggs asked the jury if they had suffered a violent assault as suggested by the woman, did they think that they would be sending texts saying they were “addicted to sex” four days later.
In his closing speech to the jury, Patrick McGrath SC, defending one of the men, said the evidence in the case stood on the credibility of the woman. He said that when you looked at the woman's capacity for making allegations and her overall character, he suggested that she was someone “that is lacking wholly in credibility”.
Mr McGrath said the woman was a “fantasist” and “a person who does not value the truth”.
Paul Greene SC, defending one of the men, asked jurors to consider if his client intended to rape the woman, why would he have used a condom or why would he have dumped it at the scene instead of “disposing of the evidence”.
“None of the three believed they had committed a crime and each of the three believed there was consent. And there was consent,” Mr Greene said.