Four Leamington men are to stand trial next year over allegations that they all raped a 15-year-old girl across a two day period in June.
The girl, who it is alleged was raped by one of the men on a number of occasions in June and July, is also said to have been subjected to trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The four men, some of whom had already been arraigned, appeared with two others in the dock at Warwick Crown Court where a new joint indictment was put to them all.
Facing the most serious charges, Januario da Costa Gusmao, 30, of Shrubland Street, pleaded not guilty to raping the 15-year-old girl on a number of occasions in June and July.
He also denied engaging in sexual communication with the girl, and a similar charge in relation to another 15-year-old, for sexual gratification, and sexual activity with a child.
He and Leoneto Freitas, 23, of the same address, Blacius Ola, 24 of Grove Place, and Vitorino dos Santos Castro, 29, of Aylesford Street, Leamington, pleaded not guilty to raping the same girl over a two-day period in early June.
And Gusmao, Tobias Belo, 31, also of Shrubland Street, and Ola pleaded not guilty to separate charges of arranging or facilitating the travel of the girl for sexual exploitation.
Gusmao and Freitas also denied offences of common assault on the girl, with Gusmao also denying making threats to kill her and intimidating her, knowing she was assisting the police in an investigation.
In addition Belo and Aluiziu dos Santos, 28, of Brunswick Street, Leamington, pleaded not guilty to charges of encouraging or assisting the commission of a sexual offence against the girl by supplying alcohol on the days of the alleged rapes in June.
Prosecutor Nicola Moore said a date has been fixed for the trial, which is expected to last up to five weeks, of February 19 next year.
“That is the earliest date this court can find for a trial of this length,” she explained.
Of the issues in the trial, Emma Nott, for Gusmao, said in relation to the rape allegations will be that sexual activity had been consensual.
Gerry Mohabir, for dos Santos, said: “He says that at no stage did he ever offer alcohol to the two complainants, and was not present.”
Marc Davis, representing Freitas and Belo, said that Belo says he was not there, while Freitas’s case was that he was not involved in anything that went on.
And Helen Butcher, for dos Santos Castro, said his defence was as set out in his police interview.
Miss Moore pointed out that for Gusmao, Belo and Freitas, the custody time limits, the period during which a defendant can be held in custody before standing trial runs out on January 4, for Ola on January 30, and for dos Santos Castro on February 14.
After hearing that defence barristers had no objections, Deputy Judge Phillip Wassal approved an application by Miss Moore for all the custody time limits to be extended until February 20.
He said: “I’m satisfied the extension of the custody time limits is necessary and proportionate, given the serious nature and complexity of the issues involved, and the sheer difficulty obtaining a window of five weeks in the busy lists of this court.”
Miss Moore said there will need to be Tetun interpreters for the trial, a language spoken in East Timor. She also said because there could be conflicts between some defendants, a single interpreter could not act for them all.
Observing that there are few Tetun interpreters in this country, Miss Nott said some defendants also speak Portuguese, so ‘may be able to cope with a Portuguese interpreter.’
Judge Wassal adjourned the case for trial, and for a further hearing to establish how many interpreters will be needed – and in what language.
Dos Santos was granted bail with conditions of residence and that he does not contact either of the girls, but the other five defendants were all remanded in custody.