Belfast Telegraph

Alleged victim of 12-hour rape ordeal faces giving evidence for second time after trial collapses over 'unreliable' translation of evidence

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

The alleged victim of a harrowing 12-hour rape ordeal faces giving evidence in court for a second time following the collapse of a trial.

The trial was aborted yesterday because of "inaccurate and unreliable" interpretation by a translator employed by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Discharging the Craigavon Crown Court jury, Judge Patrick Lynch QC said due to the unreliable interpretation of the alleged victim's evidence, they would not be asked to decide guilt or innocence on unreliable evidence.

"The trial has been irreparably compromised," said the judge.

A Stormont MLA and member of the justice committee described the error as "totally unacceptable".

The jury was trying the case of Lithuanian men Darius Porcikas (24) and Vytautas Mikulinas (23).

On Monday, the jury heard how the woman, also a Lithuanian national, was allegedly subjected to a 12-hour ordeal, where she was repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted and beaten in her Lurgan flat on July 13, 2011, by Porcikas and another man not before the court.

It is the Crown's case that Porcikas and the third man beat her ex-boyfriend into unconsciousness before launching the alleged sex attack.

Porcikas, from upper Edward Street in Newry, faces 14 charges, including five counts of rape, two of sexual assault, two of false imprisonment, causing actual bodily harm and assault, all in relation to the female victim. He also faces two further charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and actual bodily harm in relation to her ex-partner.

Mikulinas, from Birch Hill Park in Portadown, faces a single charge of causing actual bodily harm to the woman's ex-partner.

Yesterday, prosecuting QC Richard Weir told the judge that other interpreters had drawn the court's attention to misgivings they had about the standard of the translation of the victim's evidence.

Eileen Calder of the Rape Crisis Centre in Belfast described the situation as "absolutely horrendous" for the alleged victim.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott, a member of Stormont's Justice Committee, said: "It's farcical but extremely serious."

A PPS spokeswoman said: "A trial will commence before a new jury on March 10. PPS will be seeking a full explanation from the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, its interpretation service provider, about the serious concerns and issues resulting from the quality of interpretation service it provided."

QUOTES

"The system has failed this woman and it is totally unacceptable and inexcusable. For an alleged victim to appear in court is an incredibly frightening situation. The whole court scenario is daunting, when you come face to face with somebody accused of putting you through such an ordeal." Eileen Calder of the Rape Crisis Centre in Belfast

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