Lawyers for four men accused of taking part in the “gang rape” of a teenager in a car over five years ago have told jurors it was not their job to judge the morality of that night’s events.
In the early hours of December 27, 2016, the then 17-year-old girl got into a car with five men in a Midlands town, a decision she told the jury and now believes was “very stupid”.
The defendants are said to have sexually assaulted them both as the car was being driven out of town.
The car was driven to a remote location nearby, and three of the accused, as well as the fifth man who is not on trial, are said to have successively raped her at that location.
The jury heard that two of the defendants were later dropped off at a house in town and the car driven to another location.
The woman said she asked to be let out of the car but was ignored and a man raped her a second time while a fourth man drove his penis into her mouth.
The defendants, who were between 17 and 19 at the time, deny all allegations.
Neither she nor the applicant can be identified under the Rape Act 1981.
The hearing of evidence ended Thursday morning and closing statements have begun and will continue today before Judge Tara Burns and a jury.
The driver, Brendan Grehan SC, closed his case for the youngest accused and told the jury what happened on the night was “unedifying conduct” by any standard.
He said that sexual activity is usually private, not usually voyeuristic, not usually videotaped, and usually doesn’t involve sequencing of the activity.
He said that none of these characteristics per se constitute criminal behavior, but that they may explain some of people’s reactions after the events.
“You could say something about why someone would want to lie or apologize about it,” he said.
He told the jury that while they might disapprove of what happened that night and find it morally reprehensible, they are not there to make moral judgments.
He said it was accepted that his client lied, but he said the jury is told people can lie for reasons that are innocent.
He said in his client’s case he lied out of embarrassment and shame and feared “he would lose everything” and would not be allowed to travel abroad for necessary medical treatment.
“Who wouldn’t be ashamed to be involved? No matter how you put it on, it doesn’t reflect well on the people involved, which doesn’t mean it’s a sex crime,” he said.
He said his client admitted to some sexual activity, which he says was consensual, but not penetrative sex.
On the issue of consent, Mr Grehan said that “in the context of sexual matters, yes is rarely said explicitly” and “it’s more of an implied position”.
He said that communication takes place on many different levels besides language.
He said the reality of human affairs is that a positive response can be communicated “through body language, by responding to a suggestion, by a touch, a look, a sign, a change in mood.”
“We instinctively know when someone is unhappy with something,” he said.
He said his client was allegedly the second person to rape the girl and that a third person, not on trial, got into the car and raped her.
He said the applicant’s evidence was that she only said “stop” to the third person and that at that point she also said “stop” to whoever was recording the activity.
“Was that because she was afraid it would be shared?” Mr. Grehan asked.
He said the jury could rule that the applicant did not consent to sexual activity and that his client did not know this and that he had reasonable grounds to believe that she did consent.
He said the prosecution’s case was that the girl “didn’t have a voice” but the evidence was that later that morning she got angry and demanded a cell phone and that his client gave her one and she used it, to get ahead to facebook and contact a friend.
Colman Cody SC, who defended the third accused, said the woman showed she could be “demanding” and assertive when, in what she said, she became aggressive and asked to use a phone.
He said the driver’s actions in providing his phone were not consistent with someone who thought the girl had been raped.
He said 24 minutes after dropping the girl off at a location near her friends, the driver contacted her again on Facebook to let her know they had found her passport in the car.
Mr Cody said the girl was undoubtedly distressed when she met her friends and they persuaded her to go gardaí, but “she wouldn’t, she refused” because “she didn’t want her parents to know, she thought.” Parents would kill her.”
He said on one interpretation this was understandable, but on another it could suggest that the complainant “may have had some doubts about what happened”.
“She would have to account for her movements. What caused her distress. Was it the fact or belief on your part that the activity had been recorded that prompted these allegations,” Mr Cody said, adding that it could be something that could be very embarrassing.
He asked jurors to consider evidence that when the car dropped two of the men, the girl moved from the “comparative isolation” of the front seat to the rear “in the company of two of her alleged attackers.”
He said this is indicative of someone capable of making decisions and does not reflect someone exposed to the actions she claims.
He said at least there is an incongruity here.
He accepted his client had lied to Gardai about what happened that night but said it could be attributed to an “instinctive panic reaction” from a young man who had never been to a Garda station before.
At the end of a series of Garda interviews, Mr. Cody’s client later told Gardaí that he used to lie because he was stressed, that he believed he and the others had taken advantage of the girl, and that he would ask her to tell them forgive.
He told Gardaí: “I’m really sorry I thought she wouldn’t be like that, she wanted it, but now she’s going through all this.”
Mr Cody said it was an expression of retrospective regret for what happened and embarrassment for what happened.
“Regret cannot and should not automatically be translated into acceptance of a rape allegation,” he said.
He said it was also possible that the applicant had some regrets about what had happened and that this was the reason for her allegations.
The attorney told the jury that a situation where five men and a girl engaged in sexual activity in a car “does not automatically convert that event into a gang rape.”
He said it was not their job to judge events morally.
He said his client’s case was that “he had an honest subjective belief that there was consent to the various sexual acts that he admitted he had engaged in.”
He said “there is evidence to support his claim that she consented at relative times”.
“Can you conclude that he had no basis for assuming she would agree? Could you convince yourself beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn’t honestly believe there was consent?” he asked jurors.
https://www.independent.ie/news/lawyers-for-four-men-accused-of-gang-rape-of-a-teen-girl-tell-jurors-its-not-their-role-to-judge-the-morality-of-events-41511323.html Lawyers for four men accused of gang raping a teenager tell jurors it’s not their job to judge the “morality” of events