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Boy (16) yelled for help during rape, court told as accused denied bail

By Alan Erwin

Published 01/09/2016

Defendant: Gerard Scannell
Defendant: Gerard Scannell

A teenage boy allegedly raped in west Belfast described a tattoo on the chest of the man accused of attacking him, the High Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutors also claimed the 16-year-old youth was trailed into bushes and subjected to a predatory sexual assault as he screamed for help.

Details emerged as bail was refused to a 39-year-old painter and decorator charged with carrying out the attack in the Falls Park area early on July 16.

Gerard Scannell, from Ballymurphy Road in the city, denies three counts of rape and a further offence of sexual assault.

His lawyers challenged the strength of case, insisting that no DNA evidence had yet been established.

The court heard the boy was allegedly attacked after leaving friends to walk home.

He told police that he passed a man wearing dungarees and a T-shirt who asked his name and shouted "Yo" in a bid to attract his attention.

It was claimed the man then followed him into the park before grabbing him by the neck and repeatedly raping him.

Prosecution counsel said: "He described this to police as being sore - he said he was screaming and shouting for help."

During the alleged ordeal the attacker took his top off, revealing a tattoo on his chest, the court was told.

According to the prosecutor, a tattoo on Scannell's body matched the description provided by the teenager who was allegedly raped.

Police were alerted shortly after the youth returned to his mother's home.

Mr Justice Maguire was told a T-shirt found close to the scene of the alleged rape belonged to the accused.

Opposing bail, the Crown lawyer claimed Scannell had shaved off his beard before handing himself in to police.

During interviews, he said he had been drinking heavily at two bars on the night in question.

He claimed to have taken the T-shirt off because he had spilled a pint over it and was going to see his mother.

But the prosecution contended that he failed to provide a full account of his whereabouts.

It was, however, accepted that intimate samples taken from the teenager found no traces of the accused's DNA.

The results of forensic tests on samples from Scannell will not be available until November.

The defendant could abscond if released due to threats towards him from the community, the court heard. Denying bail, Mr Justice Maguire held there was a risk Scannell could flee.

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