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27/07/2021

Teenage boy found not guilty of raping girl (15) in public park

Teenage boy found not guilty of raping girl (15) in public park

A jury has found a teenage boy not guilty of raping a 15-year-old girl in a public park.

The defendant, now aged 17, told gardaí after meeting the girl for the first time at a local shopping centre that they were kissing and the girl then suggested they go into a nearby park where she then suggested sex.

He said he was physically unable to have penetrative sex but said the girl masturbated him. He said he didn't know her name and described her as “more locked than I was”.

In her evidence the complainant, now aged 16, testified that she was happy to kiss the boy but did not want to do anything else. She said he led her into the bushes and forced her to have sex with him and that she was too drunk to stop him.

The accused had pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault at a park in south Dublin on April 13, 2019. None of the parties can be identified as they are juveniles.

After an eight day trial at the Central Criminal Court, a jury of nine women and three men returned not guilty verdicts on both counts. The jury had deliberated for just under four hours.

Shortly before returning the verdicts, the jury foreman had told Ms Justice Eileen Creedon that the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. She then directed that the court could accept a majority verdict on which ten or more agreed.

In his closing speech for the prosecution Garnet Orange SC told the jury that the defendant showed himself to be an “accomplished repeated liar” through his three interviews with gardaí ten days after the alleged rape.

He told jurors they should treat the account he gave in the final interview with extreme caution.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, told the jury that at the time of the interviews his client was a 16-year-old boy with no previous convictions being held in garda custody. He said his answers to garda questions were the answers of someone afraid to acknowledge or say anything, even the fact that he owns a Snapchat account.

He said that in her own evidence the complainant gave a “fantastic insight into the teenage mind” which amounted to “teenagers lie so that they don't get into trouble”.

The complainant was questioned over sexual activity which took place with another boy in a park a year before the alleged rape. She said this was consensual and denied that she had suggested to anyone that what happened on that occasion was against her will.

Her mother told the court that if the earlier incident had been a case of someone forcing her daughter to do something she would have “gone straight to gardaí”.

In his closing speech Mr Bowman told the jury that it was “very fortunate” for his client that independent evidence of CCTV exists which he suggested shows the girl is “in control of her faculties and knows exactly where she is going” after she comes out of the bushes.

He said this is contrary to testimony from her aunt and mother who saw her on the street that she can barely walk and her own evidence that “she was so drunk that she couldn't resist”.

He said the prosecution themselves have said the pair went into bushes for privacy though the complainant told gardaí that she thought she was being led to meet up with other friends.

Mr Bowman told jurors that it was not illegal to have sex with someone whose judgement is impaired by alcohol and who wouldn't have been with that person if they were sober. He said it was also not illegal to have sex with someone who is intoxicated and who later regrets their actions.

He said it is illegal to have sex with someone who is so intoxicated they are incapable of understanding what is taking place or of physically resisting. He submitted this was not the situation in his client's case.

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