Belfast Telegraph

Woman 'raped, burned and beaten while held captive by man she met online'

A Lithuanian woman was raped at knifepoint, burned and had a gun put to her head after arriving in Northern Ireland, the High Court has heard.

A man she met online locked her in a house, threatened to gouge her eyes out and put on boxing gloves to beat her, it was alleged.

Prosecutors claimed the woman was forced to perform sexual acts and told she would be hanged from a thick black strap if she disobeyed.

Details emerged as her alleged attacker, migrant worker Audrius Aukstuolis, was refused bail yesterday.

The 28-year-old Lithuanian national from Lambfield Meadows, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, denies charges of rape, grievous bodily harm and making threats to kill.

He claims to have been set up in an extortion plot organised by the woman and her associates in the Lithuanian mafia.

The court heard the accused and alleged victim met though a website and communicated for months before she flew into Ireland last month.

Crown counsel Christine Smith said Mr Aukstuolis took the woman to his Dungannon home and showed her a bedroom where she would be staying.

It was claimed he laid roses out in the shape of a heart on top of the bed. But according to the prosecution, he later began accusing her of texting and looking at other men, followed her everywhere when they went out and demanded her mobile phone if she went to the bathroom.

Mrs Smith said that although the pair had consensual sex, on July 25 the woman claimed Mr Aukstuolis asked her to delete an online account she had.

“He then put on boxing gloves and punched her numerous times about her body,” the barrister told the court.

Mr Aukstuolis was alleged to have read her online history and threatened to “cut off her fingers, arms and take her eyes out if she stood close to him while he was at the computer”.

It was claimed he locked the woman in a room before putting a knife to her throat and telling her to say she would stay with him.

On another occasion he allegedly became hysterical, held the knife to her chest and said: “Do you want me to stab you? Don't tease the animal.”

The woman claimed she was raped and, a day later, burned on the toe with a knife he heated over the flame of her lighter.

Mrs Smith said it was claimed: “He threatened to kill her if she didn't do what he said.”

At one stage, the woman alleged he told her a thick black strap in the hall was to hang her if she disobeyed him.

She also claimed to have had a gun put against her head, the court heard.

According to the prosecution, the woman later escaped and went to a fire station seeking help.

Following Mr Aukstuolis' arrest on July 28, police searched his home and seized boxing gloves, a baseball bat, a black strap, and knives. He denied all allegations against him and claimed he and the woman had fallen in love online and wanted to be together, the court heard.

Mrs Smith said: “He referred to her on several occasions as his internet love and the love of his life. He denied raping her and stated he could never hurt her.”

Mr Aukstuolis also insisted the woman could have left the house at any point, telling police the pair had gone out many times.

Ian Turkington, defending, said his client, a labourer who moved to Dungannon more than six years ago, had nothing to hide.

“The defendant makes the case at interview he is the victim of an extortion of blackmail attempt by the alleged injured party along with other cohorts of hers,” Mr Turkington argued.

“On her website she has links with members of the Lithuanian mafia who, in turn, had contacted the defendant.”

The barrister claimed medical reports on the alleged victim were not consistent with the assaults she said she was subjected to.

Refusing bail, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ruled there was a risk to the public on the basis of allegations which he stressed have not yet been proven.

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