Trial adjourned in alleged three-man sex assault after Christmas party in Limerick

The Limerick Circuit Court.

THE JURY in a trial involving allegations of sex assault on a 17-year-old schoolgirl by three men has been adjourned until tomorrow (Thursday).

The Circuit Criminal Court in Limerick heard this week how it will be alleged that three young men sexually assaulted a schoolgirl after a Christmas party celebration held at a rugby club grounds outside Limerick City.

The three – who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the alleged injured party – are pleading not guilty to sexual assault of the then 17-year-old girl on December 22, 2017.

Opening the prosecution case to the jury of five men and seven women in the Circuit Court sitting in Limerick on Tuesday, John O’Sullivan BL said he would be outlining the facts as he believed they would be presented, rather than giving evidence.

Evidence would come from sworn testimony in the witness box and the jury would make their decision based on hearing that, Mr O’Sullivan told the court.

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“What you will hear is that, after a Christmas party at Old Crescent Rugby Club in Rosbrien, the alleged injured party went to the rear of the club – she believed some of her friends would be in that area,” he said.

“She encountered the three accused and she will say they exposed their penises and asked her for oral sex.”

Mr O’Sullivan outlined that it would be alleged that the young woman and one of the men began kissing, after which two of the accused “began touching her in a sexual way” without her consent.

The prosecuting barrister said that the third accused, while he did not touch the young woman, “was encouraging and supporting” the other two accused.

“He had taken out his penis and remarks he made were to encourage them. The prosecution must prove that he had the intent to commit sexual assault,” the barrister told the court.

The prosecuting barrister then told the jury that the three accused heard some noises in the area and ran away.

“The Gardaí were not contacted until January 12, 2018, after she (the alleged injured party) returned to school and reported the incident to the school chaplain.”

Mr O’Sullivan told the jury that the accused men “enjoy the presumption of innocence” unless they are convicted and anything he had described was just an outline of evidence which he expected they would hear during the course of the trial from witnesses.

The court heard that one of the young men was just 17 years old at the time of the alleged incident, while the other two were both 18.

Evidence in the trial was due to open on Wednesday morning with the alleged victim taking the stand, but before any evidence was heard, Judge Dermot Sheehan called the jury into court and told them that “administrative issues have arisen”, and sent them away until Thursday morning.

He warned the jury not to resort to Google, newspapers, or social media, saying that “the trial happens here, not outside”.