Teenage girl who has life 'challenges' assaulted at Limerick house party

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

During a contested district court hearing, Judge Marie Keane was told the offence happened at the teenager’s home in a village in Limerick

During a contested district court hearing, Judge Marie Keane was told the offence happened at the teenager’s home in a village in Limerick

A SEPARATED father-of-five will be sentenced at Limerick court next month after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl who suffers from an intellectual disability.

The 51-year-old, who is originally from Dublin, had denied the charge which relates to an incident at the teenager’s home in a village in Limerick on June 9, 2013.

During a contested district court hearing, Judge Marie Keane was told the offence happened at around 10pm during a party which was taking place at the house.

The court was told a complaint was made to gardai a number of months later and that the victim, who was aged 13 at the time, was subsequently interviewed by specialist garda interviewers.

In portions of the interview which were played in court, the young girl can be seen describing how the defendant began rubbing against her in the crowded kitchen before feeling her breast and bottom.

“He started feeling my breast and my arse with his hand,” she said.

In her evidence, the teenager’s mother said she did not see “anything untoward on the night” and that it wasn’t until sometime later that she realised what had happened.

She agreed with Sergeant Donal Cronin, prosecuting, that at one point during the night she had sent her daughter to her bedroom as she had punched the defendant in the face on three occasions.

”She gave him a box, I took her out (of the room) but she ran back in and gave him another box,” she said adding that the teenager was angry but would not say why.

Being cross-examined by solicitor Robin Lee the woman accepted she had not mentioned her daughter hitting his client in her statement of complaint to gardai.

“You didn’t see fit to even mention it in your statement, there was no mention of your daughter hitting my client at your house on that date,” he said.

Being questioned via video-link about what had happened, the victim said she had struck the defendant a number of times because he was “agitating me”.

Judge Keane was told a comprehensive file was prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions following a garda investigation and that the prosecution before the court was on foot of directions from the DPP.

In his evidence during the three-hour hearing, the defendant denied the allegations.

“I had no interaction with her. I did not do what you are saying,” he said.

The defendant said he did not know why the teenager had struck him and that he did not ask her why.

“It didn’t bother me. I didn’t ask why, I just walked away. She was just a child, I let it go” he said.

Sgt Cronin put it to the witness it was “bizarre, unusual and totally unbelievable,” that he did not ask why she had hit him.

Later he put it to the defendant that he had deliberately touched the victim’s breast and bottom.

”No I did not,” he replied.

Seeking to have the case dismissed, Mr Lee questioned the delay between the date of the offence and the making of the complaint to gardai.

He also submitted the State had not met the necessary threshold given the nature of the charge before the court.

Judge Keane rejected the application and convicting the defendant she said that she was satisfied the victim’s behaviour was “a reaction to inappropriate behaviour from an adult”.

She said in the context of the victim’s age and her “challenges in life” she was satisfied the actions of the accused amounted to an indecent assault.

Sentencing will take place next month.