Gardai arrest five young men over alleged gang rape of a teenage girl
Five young men have been arrested over the suspected gang rape of a 17-year-old girl.
The alleged attack took place in a midlands town last December and detectives swooped on the five suspects on Wednesday.
All five men, who are aged between 17 and 20, were released without charge yesterday and a file on the case will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The alleged victim comes from a "loving and respectable family" and has been described as "extremely distraught and vulnerable" since the incident.
It is alleged that the girl got into a car in the town centre that was occupied by a man known to her.
She is not believed to have been forced into the vehicle.
It is claimed that the girl was taken to another location and attacked by the men there.
The majority of the alleged attacks took place in this location. After the alleged gang rape, it is understood that the girl sought help and gardai were then notified of the incident.
A major investigation involving officers based in the midlands then took place and CCTV footage was gathered and studied.
Forensic and other evidence was also obtained by gardai.
It is understood that, when all this evidence was gathered, senior officers decided to make arrests this week.
The suspects - one 17-year-old, two 19-year-olds and two 20-year-olds - were all picked up by gardai on Wednesday and questioned at different stations in the midlands before being released without charge yesterday evening.
All of the suspects live in the midlands area and were not previously known for this type of offence.
It is understood that gardai will now prepare a file to be sent to the DPP.
Sources say the case is "extremely difficult and complex".
The alleged victim is understood to be "deeply, deeply traumatised", according to sources.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said last year that gardai recorded 2,442 sex offences - a rise of 13pc in the 12 months from June 2015 to June 2016.
Latest figures from the CSO showed that, in 2014, reported sexual offences were down 18pc on 2010, but up 3pc on 2013.
Less than half of reported sexual offences (47pc) in 2014 resulted in criminal proceedings, which was the lowest rate since 2010 and represented the continuation of a downward trend.
In 2010, there were 2,324 reported rapes, with 1,524 leading to criminal proceedings.
In 2014, there were 1,894 reported rapes - of which 878 led to criminal proceedings.