Three men facing trial over alleged rape of woman who has since died

Court reportCourt report
Court report
Three men are to stand trial on charges connected to the alleged rape of a woman in Belfast, a judge ordered today.

Nathan Howard, 26, Jack Thompson, 21, and Jason Lewis, 23, are also accused of sexual assault and voyeurism offences as part of the same investigation.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard that the complainant in the case has since died.

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Howard, previously of Waring Street in the city, and Thompson, from Fort Road in Dundonald, are both charged with two counts of rape.

Lewis, of Harmin Park in Newtownabbey, faces four counts of aiding and abetting rape.

The alleged offences all occurred in June 2022.

As the three defendants appeared in court for the first time, defence lawyers indicated there will be a future challenge to the prosecution continuing.

“It relates to a deceased complainant,” one barrister disclosed. He added that all three accused have made a clear point about consent in the case.

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During the brief preliminary enquiry the defendants confirmed they understood the charges but declined to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage.

District Judge Steven Keown held they each have a prima facie case to answer.

Granting the prosecution’s application, he told them: “You will be returned (for trial) at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.”

Howard, Thompson and Lewis were all released on bail to live at agreed addresses.