Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Young mother abducted, raped and beaten by gang over six days in Limerick

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A young mother was repeatedly raped and beaten while being held captive by three men during a six-day ordeal.

A major garda investigation is continuing after the victim came forward to officers and told of her frightening experiences.

It is understood that the woman, in her early 20s, was held captive for six days after she had been abducted by three men while on her way home.

She was brought under duress to an address in Limerick city by the trio, where she was repeatedly raped and beaten for almost a week.

The horrifying ordeal began for the woman on the Friday of the May bank holiday weekend.

It is understood that she was making her way to the place where she lives in Limerick when she encountered the three men.

It is believed they came upon her by chance and gardai, at this stage of their investigations, do not believe that the three men had been lying in wait for her.

She was bundled into a vehicle and taken to a Limerick city centre address.

There, she was repeatedly raped and beaten over the course of five nights and six days.

While investigations are at an early stage, investigators believe that only one of the men carried out the brutal sex assaults on the victim.

She was raped on a number of occasions during the six days.

The address where she was held has been described by one source as a small, ordinary property.

At all times, one of the three men involved in holding her prisoner was in the house with her. On one occasion, she was beaten with a shovel.

It is not yet known if the woman attempted to escape from the address at any stage over the course of the six days. She was fed at the property each day.

The young mother was released from the house on May 8 -- almost a week after being taken captive.

Friends of the woman -- who noticed that she had been badly beaten and had bruise marks across her body -- learnt of her ordeal and gardai were immediately alerted.

Officers from Mayorstone garda station in Limerick took lengthy statements from her last week as a major investigation was launched to track down the culprits.

The victim received treatment at the sexual-assault unit at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick and is also being offered counselling.

"She suffered a horrendous ordeal," one source said.

"What she encountered was a horrifying experience and the alleged offences committed are extremely grave."

Officers leading the investigation are close to identifying the culprits.

As the victim was being sexually assaulted in the property throughout the May bank holiday weekend, up to 40,000 people had flocked into Limerick city for the Riverfest celebrations.

The woman was taken captive on May 3 -- the same day as the Riverfest began with a fashion show.

The annual event is the largest festival held in Limerick each year and the biggest social gathering held in the country for the May bank holiday weekend.

And the woman's six-day ordeal was taking place at the same time as three women and a young girl were freed from a house in Cleveland, USA.

The three women had been held captive for a decade and their alleged captor, Ariel Castro, fathered a child with one of them.

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