By Claire Henry and Sonya McLean
The trial of four men accused of various sexual offences against a woman in her home almost five years ago collapsed at the Central Criminal Court last week, after all charges against the men were dropped.
The men, who all have addresses in Dublin, are alleged to have raped and sexually assaulted the woman at her home between December 8 and 9, 2018.
Reporting restrictions apply to the identity of all participants in the trial.
The first accused, aged 25, had pleaded not guilty to oral rape and sexual assault. The second accused, also aged 25, had pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault. The third accused, aged 23, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape, one oral rape and a sexual assault.
The fourth accused, aged 24, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape and sexual assault.
Earlier last week, while the woman was being cross-examined by Dominic McGinn SC defending the first accused, she became upset in the witness box and asked for permission to take a break.
Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, later told Mr Justice David Keane that the woman was undergoing psychiatric treatment for an ongoing issue with her mental health. She said the State were liaising with the woman’s doctor to see if the woman was fit to continue with her evidence in the trial.
Ms Rowland indicated on Tuesday that due to medical advice, the State wished to apply to the court to allow for the woman to continue her evidence via video link. The State was not successful in this application.
On Wednesday, Ms Rowland told the court that the woman was not able to continue to give her evidence and she said the State wished to enter a nolle prosequi on each of the counts faced by each of the men, meaning all charges against the men were dropped.
On the following day, Mr Justice Keane spoke directly to the jury and said, “You have been here for three weeks, and unfortunately, the trial did not come to a natural conclusion.”. He said: “Our legal system, society and democracy depend on you.”
He noted the subject matter made the jury experience particularly difficult and challenging. He told the jury they were now exempt from jury service for 15 years as an expression of thanks from the State.
Mr Justice Keane reminded the jury that the complainant is entitled to lifelong anonymity, and further, each of the accused is also entitled to lifelong anonymity.
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