Four teenage suspects arrested over horror Courtown sex attack
Armed gardai were present at the arrest of the chief suspects for a savage sex attack on three young girls in Courtown Harbour last July.
The four teenagers were arrested early yesterday at a site in the south-east of the country.
They were held on suspicion of rape as part of a planned garda operation.
An 18-year-old described as "vulnerable" and three juveniles aged 14, 15 and 17 were arrested and questioned by specialist officers yesterday.
"Charges are likely in this case. There is strong evidence against them and this is being put to the suspects," a source told the Herald last night.
"However, there has been no co-operation from the suspects, and this could well be a case that comes down to forensic evidence."
Two of the suspects were being held at Kilkenny Garda Station, while the other two were being questioned at an- other station in the county.
The four are known to gardai, and despite their young ages have been linked to other serious crimes including arson, theft and assault in the south- eastern town they live in.
Details of the arrests were announced by gardai yesterday after a lengthy investigation by officers based in Gorey.
"Gardai investigating a serious sexual assault that was reported to have occurred on July 28 at approximately 12.15am in the Burrow area of Courtown Harbour have arrested four male teenagers - one adult and three juveniles - on suspicion of rape," a spokesman said.
"Gardai continue to appeal to anyone who may have been in the Burrow area between 10pm on Saturday, July 27, and the early hours of the following morning who has not already been in contact to speak to them."
The Herald revealed last month that officers had previously spoken to the suspects and taken DNA samples, as well as other evidence, from them but they were not arrested at that time.
Officers have raided sites in Kilkenny and Waterford as part of their investigations.
It is alleged that one of the teenage girls was raped while the two others were the victims of a sexual assault.
All three girls have been left traumatised by the incident, according to sources.
In relation to the rape allegation, it is claimed that the girl was "held down" by a teenager while his friend raped her.
Specialist officers have also been investigating whether more than one suspect was responsible for the sexual assaults on the other two girls who alleged they were attacked.
It previously emerged that both the alleged victims and the alleged attackers had been in the seaside village on holiday.
The girls are believed to be originally from west Dublin and the attacks are understood to have happened close to the beach in the north Wexford village.
The girls made official statements to specialist officers and were treated in a hospital's sexual assault unit.
A senior source said the girls' claims are being treated as "credible" and CCTV has also been gathered as part of the probe.
In August, gardai made an appeal for a Good Samaritan who helped the victims following the incident to contact them.