Prosecution to make closing speech at Donegal rape trial

The prosecution will make its closing speech today in the case of a 19-year-old youth has who denies raping and orally raping a then 16-year-old girl behind a building in a town in Co Donegal in the early hours of March 18, 2016.

Yesterday, a garda investigating the alleged rape confirmed to the court that he told the DPP about an inconsistency between CCTV footage and the complainant’s account.

Lead investigator Garda Paul Leape also defended his decision not to show the girl the CCTV footage of herself and the accused returning from the scene of the alleged offences.

The garda said under cross-examination: “I don’t believe it’s an investigator’s job to return to an injured party or to a witness, and, because one piece of evidence is inconsistent to another, you’d give them a second bite of the cherry to explain the inconsistency.”

On Day 7 of the Central Criminal Court trial, Gda Leape was asked about a report he compiled on the basis of statements, CCTV footage, forensic and other evidence.

His report was part of a file sent to a garda sergeant, a superintendent and then on to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who then decided to prosecute the case.

The court heard the file included two clips of CCTV footage, previously shown to the jury. This depicted the girl and the accused walking to and from the scene of the alleged rapes in the early hours of the morning.

In his report to the DPP, Gda Leape commented that the first CCTV clip showed that the girl “willingly” went with the accused to the scene. He also wrote that the second piece of footage “clearly shows both parties returning hand in hand from the scene. They kiss each other before she gently pushes him away”.

“She does not appear from the footage to be overtly upset,” concluded Gda Leape in his report.

Under cross-examination from Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, Gda Leape agreed that the footage “does not necessarily support” the evidence given by the injured party and by her friends that she had been upset after the alleged events.

“You’re looking at the screen, it’s a one-dimensional view. Just because she doesn’t appear to me to be upset, it doesn’t mean that, inside, she wasn’t upset,” Gda Leape clarified.

Gda Leape said he spoke to other witnesses on the night who said the girl had been upset.

Gda Leape also rejected a suggestion by the defence that he had taken the complaint made by the injured party “at face value” and had “never investigated the underlying facts”.

“The statements were not taken at face value. There was other evidence taken which showed consistency to what we believed she was saying. Also other statements from her friends, CCTV on the night, all heading in the one direction,” said Gda Leape.

Earlier, Gda Leape told counsel for the defence that “taking the statement is not the forum for seeking an explanation” when faced with an inconsistency.

“Where is the forum?’ asked counsel.

“Here,” replied the garda. “You could have put it to the witness during your cross-examination.”

The court also heard that when the accused was charged with both offences, he replied “that’s not true,” to the allegation of rape. When charged with the second count of oral rape, he replied, “that’s also not true.”

The trial, before Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy and a jury of eight men and four women, is due to continue tomorrow/on Friday, when Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, will give his closing speech on behalf of the State.