herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Girl (15) 'feared she might be raped after being forced into car'

A terrified schoolgirl thought she was going to be raped after being forced into a car and driven away at speed, the Dublin Children's Court was told yesterday (Stock picture)
A terrified schoolgirl thought she was going to be raped after being forced into a car and driven away at speed, the Dublin Children's Court was told yesterday (Stock picture)

A terrified schoolgirl thought she was going to be raped after being forced into a car and driven away at speed, the Dublin Children's Court was told yesterday.

A garda told the court she would never forget the look on the 15-year-old girl's face when the car was intercepted on the M1 in Dublin on November 10.

A 17-year-old boy, who allegedly forced her into the car, faced a preliminary hearing to decide his trial venue - if the case should stay in the Children's Court or go to the Circuit Court, which has tougher sentencing powers. He is accused of false imprisonment, which he denies.

Judge John O'Connor viewed CCTV footage and heard an outline of the allegations as well as submissions from the defence.

Afterwards, he said that, while the accused has the presumption of innocence, the video evidence was "chilling". He held the case was too serious to be heard in the Children's Court and refused jurisdiction.

The teenager, a distant relative of the victim, claims he was bringing the girl to a barbecue.

Garda Brenda Scanlon said the incident happened in north Co Dublin as the girl had been walking home from school with friends, all schoolgirls.

Force

She was "linked" by her arm with another female, who was not in a school uniform and who walked her to a car parked at the side of the road with its engine running.

A youth was in the driver's seat and it was alleged the defendant and another male were outside the car.

It was alleged the female helped the two males, including the accused, to force and "bungle" the girl into the car.

It was alleged her friends tried to pull her out but the car sped away from the scene. The garda showed the court video evidence, which she said captured this part of the incident.

Gda Scanlon said a van driver passing by at the time witnessed it and followed the car. He also called gardai and remained in constant contact, directing them to the exact location of the car. A recording of the 999 call will be used in evidence.

The judge heard the car was driven in an erratic manner, weaving in and out of traffic, and a garda car that took up pursuit had to activate its lights and siren before the car was stopped on the M1 at Cloghran.

Gda Scanlon said the girl appeared very frightened. In her first statement, the teen told her that she was not familiar with the males and was terrified.

Gda Scanlon said the girl told her she did not know what was going on and she had been held down to prevent her seeing where she was going and "she felt she might be raped".

She told gardai one of the males in the car - not the defendant - tried to kiss her.

Gda Scanlon agreed with defence counsel Anne Sheridan that the girl made a second statement days later in which she withdrew all her allegations. Her second statement tied in with the youth's claim they were going to a barbecue, the defence said.

Driver

The proceedings were translated for the youth's mother, who sat at the back of the courtroom.

In December, Judge O'Connor also refused jurisdiction in relation to another youth, who is alleged to have been the driver. The pair will appear again in February to be served with books of evidence before they are returned for trial.

The court has heard that, while the girl wanted to withdraw her complaint, the DPP wants the case to proceed in the public interest.

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