The jury in the trial of four men accused of a range of offences in connection with an alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl has begun considering its verdicts.

The trial heard the girl got into a car with five men after becoming separated from friends on a night out in December 2016.

Three of the four on trial are accused of raping her after she was driven to a remote location. All four are accused of sexual assault. One is accused of oral rape at another location and a fifth man is not before the court. Three also face charges of false imprisonment.

In her charge to the jury this morning, trial judge Ms Justice Tara Burns told the jury they must assess the evidence against each of the accused separately and in relation to each of the charges. In effect, she said, they were conducting 17 trials.

She reminded the jury it could not use what one of the accused had said about others as evidence against them. She said this was particularly important when they come to consider the statements to gardaí which were "full of references" to others.

Each statement must only be considered in the context of the case against the person who made the statement, Ms Justice Burns said. Any references to what others did must not be considered as evidence against them, she said.

She outlined the law in relation to the offence of rape, oral rape and sexual assault. She told jurors that for each alleged offence they must first determine if the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged act took place and that the woman was not consenting to the acts.

Ms Justice Burns said that a person consents to an act if she freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act. She said that it does not follow that submitting to an act means you have consented and that the failure or omission to offer resistance does not of itself amount to consent.

She said if they find she did not consent they must then go on to determine if the prosecution has proved whether each defendant knew she was not consenting or was reckless as to whether or not she was consenting. She said an accused was reckless if the possibility that the woman was not consenting crossed his mind and he continued in the sexual act.

The jury must decide what the individual defendant believed at the time he committed the alleged acts, she said.

In relation to the false imprisonment charges, she told the jury mere presence during such an offence did not constitute participation. It was the prosecution's case that three of the accused acted together to restrict the personal liberty of the complainant but the jury must be satisfied that each one had participated or encouraged such conduct and was not merely present at the time.

Closing arguments

The jury had previously heard closing argument from the prosecution and defence.

In closing arguments, prosecuting counsel Lorcan Staines SC told the jury that the complainant was legally a child at the time that she was "gang raped" by "five boys".

He said that during her evidence she did not seek to do "anybody down" and that there were numerous occasions for her to exaggerate her evidence but she did not do that. Many of the charges against the defendants came not from her allegations but from their own admissions to gardaí.

He asked the jury to imagine a situation where "so many sexual things were done to you that you yourself can't even remember some of them".

He said that the defendants seemed to have a misunderstanding of what constituted consent and their assertions that she "didn't scream, didn't shout" spoke to "rape myths".

He said that failure to offer resistance does not amount to consent and that a person does not consent if she permits or submits to an act because of the application of force.

Each of the four defendants told demonstrable lies during the course of numerous garda interviews and that they later admitted to these lies, he said.

Defence lawyers told the jury it was not their role to judge the morality of the events that night. In closing arguments for the youngest accused, the driver of the car, senior counsel Brendan Grehan told the jury what happened on the night was by any standard "unedifying behaviour".

He said that sexual activity normally takes place in private, is not normally voyeuristic, not normally recorded on video and does not normally involve sequencing of activity.

He said that none of these features in themselves make up criminal conduct, but that they may explain some of the reactions of people after the events.

"They might say something about why someone may want to lie about it or might want to apologise," he said.

He told jurors while they might disapprove of what happened that night and find it morally reprehensible, they were not there to make moral judgements.

He said in his client's case he lied out of embarrassment and shame and was afraid that "he would lose everything" and would not be allowed to travel abroad for necessary medical treatment.

In relation to the question of consent, Mr Grehan said that "in the context of sexual matters, yes is rarely expressly spoken" and "it is more of an implied position". He said that communication is done on many different levels apart from speech.

He said the reality of human affairs is that a positive response may be communicated by body language, by going along with a suggestion, by touch, a glance, a sign, a mood change.

Closing his case for the second defendant, Seamus Clarke SC told the jury that they had to consider how the conflict between how the complainant could emphatically say she did not consent and how his client could emphatically say he was not aware of this.

He said much of that conflict came down to how people communicate and "if we communicate our inner feelings externally to those around us". He said the jury had to consider whether the men really understood if the woman was not consenting.

His client is charged with sexually assaulting the girl on the car journey to the remote location by touching her breast. He is also charged with sexually assaulting her on the later journey to a second location back at the town, falsely imprisoning her in the car at this location and orally raping her in the car while another defendant raped her.

Mr Clarke said his client's position is that he believed the woman was consenting to the first sexual activity. Mr Clarke said that his client contended that the alleged oral rape at the second location did not take place.

He said his client also contends that the woman was free to leave the car at all times and that he did not restrict her liberty.

Counsel for the third accused man Colman Cody SC said that the woman showed herself capable of being "demanding" and assertive when, in her own words, she became aggressive and asked for the use of a phone.

Mr Cody said that the girl was undoubtedly distressed when she met her friends and they prevailed on her to go to gardaí but "she didn't want to, she refused to" because "she didn't want her parents to know, she thought her parents would kill her".

He said on one interpretation this is understandable, but on another it might suggest that the complainant "might have had some doubts as to what transpired".

"She was going to have to account for her movements. What was prompting her distress? Was the fact or belief on her part that the activity had been recorded the catalyst for these allegations?" Mr Cody said, adding that this was something that could be very embarrassing.

He accepted that his client had lied to gardaí about the events on the night, but said this could be put down to "instinctive panic reaction" by a young man who was never before in a garda station.

His later statement that he was "really sorry" cannot and should not be translated into acceptance of an allegation of rape, he said.

He said it might also be possible that the complainant had some regrets over what happened and this was what motivated her allegations.

Counsel told the jury that a situation in which there were five males and one girl having sexual activity in a car did not "automatically transform this event to gang rape".

Hugh Hartnett SC told the jury that it is his client's case that he did not have penetrative sex with the girl and did not ejaculate in the car.

His client is accused of sexually assaulting her in the moving car by touching her genital area and by forcing her to masturbate him.

His client is also charged with sexually assaulting and raping the girl in the parked car at the remote location.

He said his client's case is that he thought she was "up for it" and consenting when he touched her in the parked car and was grinding up against her.

The accused's account is that he then got a feeling that it was wrong and that she may not be consenting so he stopped and got out of the car, having not had penetrative sex or ejaculated.

He said an admission that the girl masturbated him came after hours of interviews in which he repeatedly told gardaí this did not happen and after a 16-minute period during which he was in the interview room with gardaí before the cameras and audio recording devices were turned on.

Mr Hartnett said that his client's sudden change of mind came about as a result of persuasion by gardaí during the unrecorded time period beforehand.

He said if the jurors thought gardaí would never do that then they should not be on the jury.

He said the allegation of rape against his client is based on evidence in which the woman says "it's all a bit of blur" and told jurors they should not be happy to convict someone on that evidence.