Jury convicts four men in relation to rape and sexual assault of teenage girl in a car six years ago

A jury has convicted four men of multiple sexual assaults committed during what was described in court as the “gang rape” of a teenage girl in a car six years ago.

n the early hours of the morning of December 27, 2016, the then 17-year-old girl got into a car with five men after she became separated from her friends at the end of a night-out in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

She asked for a lift to a place in the county but instead the car drove along back roads towards nearby Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath. During this journey the girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a number of men who groped and molested her.

The car was parked up at a remote spot on the Harbour Road, Kilbeggan and two of the defendants and another man then raped her one after another. The car was then driven back into Tullamore and parked at the Whitehall car-park.

The woman was crying and asked to leave the car but two of the men stopped her getting out of the car. One of these men raped her for a second time and another orally raped her.

After just under nine hours of deliberations the jury found the four defendants guilty of a number of charges.

The driver on the night, Marcos Vinicius De Silva Umbelino (22) of Riverview, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman by groping and molesting her on the journey. He was also convicted of raping her at Harbour Road.

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Marcos Vinicius De Silva Umbelino (22) of Riverview, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, leaving the Central Criminal Court, at Croke Park, during his trial. Picture: Collins Courts

Eduardo Dias Ferreira Filho (24) of Riverview, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, was convicted of sexually assaulting her on the initial journey. He was convicted of orally raping the girl at the Whitehall car-park.

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Eduardo Dias Ferreira Filho (24) of Riverview, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath. Picture: Collins

Gabriel Gomes Da Rocha (24) of Mount Armstrong, Rahan, Tullamore, Co Offaly, was convicted of sexually assaulting the girl on the car journey out of town. He was also found guilty of raping her in the car at the remote spot and again at Whitehall car-park at the same time as Ferreira Filho forced his penis into her mouth.

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Gabriel Gomes Da Rocha (24) of Mount Armstrong, Rahan, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Picture: Collins

Da Rocha and Ferreira Filho were convicted of falsely imprisoning the girl in the car at Whitehall. The woman told the jury that she when she asked to leave the car at this point one of the men told her “not until we get our threesome” and that the two men in the backseat stopped her getting out.

Ethan Nikolaou (23) of Brosna Park, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, was convicted of sexually assaulting the girl on the journey between Tullamore and Kilbeggan and of sexually assaulting her at the spot in Kilbeggan.

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Ethan Nikolaou (23) of Brosna Park, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath. Picture: Collins

A fifth man, Conor Byrne (24) of Ballybeg, Moate, Co Westmeath, was due to go on trial with the other men but pleaded guilty at the last minute to raping the girl on the night.

The jury returned not guilty verdicts on a number of the charges. All verdicts were unanimous.

The defendants, who were aged between 17 and 19 at the time, had denied all the charges. Their lawyers had told the jury that it was their position that some of the alleged sexual acts never took place and that any that did were believed by their clients to be consensual.

Relatives of some of the defendants began crying after the verdicts were delivered and became hysterical when prison guards later took the men into custody.

In his garda interviews in March 2018, Da Rocha accepted that he and the others had taken advantage of the girl and that it wasn’t right.

He agreed with a submission that the men became horny and that they all went “too far”. He said that he would like to tell her “sorry please forgive us”.

The woman testified that she became upset when the sexual assaults began in the back of the moving car and tried to push the men’s hands off her. She said after the first rape in the parked car she froze up and felt like she was inanimate.

The trial had run at the Central Criminal Court, sitting in a conference room at Croke Park, for the last four weeks and the jury began deliberating on Monday.

Justice Tara Burns thanked jurors for their attendance and said she was excusing them from jury duty for life due to the harrowing nature of the evidence. She remanded the four defendants in custody to a sentence hearing on May 30 next and ordered the preparation of a victim impact report for that date.

She told the victim she was a “very, very brave young woman”. The judge said she was “beyond impressed” with how she had conducted herself with “absolute dignity” during the trial. She said she hoped this portion of her life could be put behind her.

Evidence

In her evidence the woman, who is legally entitled to anonymity, said she had gone out with a number of friends on St Stephen’s Day. At one point in the night her mobile phone had fallen into a toilet and was badly damaged, making it difficult to use.

At the end of the night out in the early hours of December 27 the woman said she went to a fast food restaurant before going to a taxi company.

After waiting for nearly half an hour for a taxi she gave up and decided to walk back to a friend’s house nearby. She told the jury that she had a few drinks on her but “I had my wits about me”.

As she walked from the taxi office, she said a car pulled up about a car’s length ahead of her and someone called out her name from inside the car.

“I actually got into the car,” she told the jury. “A stupid thing.”

She was told to lay across the three men in the back because the gardaí were out and the car was full. She said she realised pretty quickly that she didn’t know any of the men and some of them were speaking what she thought was Portuguese.

She asked to be driven to a location but the men said they were going to nearby Kilbeggan in Westmeath and they began arguing amongst themselves.

She said one of the men then put his hand under her skirt and she asked him “what are you doing?”

‘Reality check’

“I got a reality check and I started to get upset,” she said. She said was flustered and had tears in her eyes and she tried to push his hands away. She said the front seat passenger, Da Rocha, noticed she was upset and asked her if she wanted to move into the front with him.

She did this but Da Rocha then began putting his hand under her skirt and there were hands reaching from the back. She said that “even after I pushed their hands way they kept on doing it”.

Da Rocha initially claimed to gardaí that the girl had never pushed his hands away but that the other men were molesting the girl and she did try to push their hands away.

In the same interview he later admitted that “she did tell me to stop… she said stop and pulled my hands away”.

The woman told the jury that before the car reached Kilbeggan she heard one man saying “ah lads, she’s good” and another saying “we’re getting it all tonight”.

She told the jury she believed this meant that “they wanted to do stuff to me”. She said she repeatedly told them to stop but they didn’t and she felt suffocated and constrained.

She said she somehow found herself in the back seat again and that one of the men forced her to touch his penis with her hands. She said she thought he ejaculated.

The car then pulled up at a remote location which the woman was surprised to recognise as she didn’t know the locality but had come to this particular spot when she was a child.

She said the males got out of the car and then one of them got back into the car with his underpants and pants down and raped her. He didn’t speak to her and she didn’t say anything to him.

Paralysed

She said she felt paralysed and just froze up. “I was really shocked, I think my body and my mind went into autopilot”. After his arrest Da Rocha told gardaí that he was the first one to go back into the car but claimed that he believed the woman was consenting.

He also claimed that she didn’t push any of the hands away during the earlier incident in the car but later admitted she did tell the men to stop and pushed their hands away.

Garda put it to the accused that it was hard to believe that “she didn’t mind you riding her” when she had earlier told him to stop feeling her breasts.

He replied “yeah”. It was put to him that all the males in the car “got aroused and horny” and “you all went too far” and he replied yeah. Asked “if you were out again and a girl got in what would you do?” he replied “we wouldn’t take her in the car”.

Gardai put it to him “didn’t you know it was wrong?” and he said “yeah we did after, the next day?….Five lads and one girl and she was young, 17. It wasn’t fair on her.”

Asked how he now felt about the complainant, Da Rocha said: “I feel bad, sorry” and asked what he would say to her he replied “sorry, try to forgive us”.

He accepted that he and the others “took advantage” of the teenager during her time in the car but did not accept that anyone had raped her. “I am really sorry, I thought she wouldn’t be like this, she wanted it but now she is going through all this,” he told gardaí.

The woman told the jury that after the first rape she felt really shocked and “inanimate”. She said the driver, later identified as Umbelino, came in after Da Rocha left and also had his trousers and underpants down and raped her.

Shocked

She said she just felt very shocked and sad at this point. She said the third man, later identified as Byrne, came in and began raping her. She said she told him to stop and he didn’t.

She said that there were mobile phone cameras flashing from outside the car and she also asked for this to stop but it didn’t. She said Byrne continued raping her and afterwards he asked if she was on the pill.

She said she felt paralysed as the rapes continued one after another. “I felt really shocked. I felt a little bit inanimate, if that makes sense.”

She said the men got back into the car and the car was driven back towards Tullamore. She said she was upset and crying in the car at this stage.

Nikolaou and Byrne got out of the car at Nikolaou’s home and the car then travelled to the Whitehall car park and one of the men asked the woman if they could have a threesome. She said no and said she wanted to leave.

She said when the car was stopped at the car park she again asked to leave but one of the men said something like “not until we have our threesome”. The court heard then that Ferreira Filho orally raped the girl at the same time as Da Rocha raped her and both men stopped her from getting out of the car.

After the final assaults the woman was let out of the car. CCTV footage played during the trial showing her running along the road. She ran to the house of a friend whom she had messaged with a phone given to her by the driver of the car.

She said she was hysterical and with her clothes half off her, calling out her friend’s name. When she got to the house, the gardaí were called.

Defending counsel for Umbelino, Brendan Grehan SC, put it to the woman that his client asserts that that what happened was consensual. Mr Grehan asked the woman why she had not tried to escape from the car.

“I didn’t know what would happen if I started demanding to get out of the car,” she said. “There was one of me and five of them. It is very intimidating.”

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/jury-convicts-four-men-in-relation-to-rape-and-sexual-assault-of-teenage-girl-in-a-car-six-years-ago-41530747.html Jury convicts four men in relation to rape and sexual assault of teenage girl in a car six years ago

Fry Electronics Team

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