Five rugby players have been sent to trial today over the alleged gang rape of a young woman in France.
They were originally indicted in June 2019, and an appeal against that decision has now been rejected by the Appeals Court in Bordeaux, South West France.
Denis Coulson, 28 is said to have taken part in the sex attack along with Frenchman Loick Jammes, 27, and New Zealander Rory Grice, 32, judicial sources said on Monday. Chris Farrell, 29 and also Irish, is accused of ‘failing to prevent the crime’, along with Dylan Hayes, 28, from New Zealand.
All five were teammates playing for FC Grenoble, in eastern France, when the gang rape is said to have happened in a hotel in Merignac, a suburb of Bordeaux where the city airport is situated, on March 12, 2017.
Now the five have been given until September 29 to launch a second appeal to Cassation – France’s highest appeal court.
Their lawyers are expected to argue that due process has been violated, and that they would not get a fair trial.
According to reports, the Appeals Court found ‘sufficient evidence that Mr Farrell and Mr Hayes failed to prevent the crime committed in Bordeaux on March 12th, 2017 and ordered that they be charged and sent before the Assizes court’.
The three men charged with gang rape face up to 20 years in prison, while the maximum punishment for failing to prevent a crime is five years.
Coulson used to play for Connacht in Ireland, and ended his professional career at Carcassonne, in South West France, in 2020. Farrell was playing for Munster when he was charged, but his career has been suspended while legal proceedings are active.
Their alleged victim was said to be a 21-year-old French student, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
She is said to have met the players in a pub after their team played a match against Union Bordeaux-Bègles.She then accompanied the five men to a disco in Bordeaux where all were seen drinking heavily, according to court evidence.
The woman then accompanied the Grenoble players to their hotel at around 4am, where the party was caught on CCTV looking very drunk.
Coulson is said to have recorded a video on his mobile telephone showing the woman performing sex acts, it is alleged by French prosecutors.
She later told a taxi driver ‘I was raped. There were several of them’, before filing a complaint to Bordeaux police a few hours later.
Denis Dreyfus, barrister for Loick Jammes, said the woman’s first statement to police described ‘consensual sex’. But the Appeals Court decision ‘clearly establishes’ that ‘there could not have been consent,’ according to a spokesman for the woman’s defence team.