A RETIRED teacher who is accused of indecently assaulting 13 schoolboys at a school in Limerick almost 40 years ago repeatedly denied the allegations when arrested and questioned by gardai.
Yesterday, a jury at Limerick Circuit Court heard the defendant was interviewed on three separate occasions at a Dublin garda station on May 4, 2011.
The 73-year-old has pleaded not guilty to 78 counts of indecent assault relating to offences which are alleged to have occurred on various dates between September 1, 1978, and June 30, 1981.
Detective Garda Paul Crowley told the jury he and a colleague interviewed the defendant following his arrest.
He agreed with John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, the retired teacher was only arrested and questioned after statements of complaint had been taken from other witnesses and the alleged injured parties.
Transcripts from each of the three interviews were read to the jury.
During the first interview he was asked if he remembered teaching at the primary school where the offences are alleged to have taken place. The defendant said he did but could not remember which class he taught.
During the interview, which lasted for more than two hours, some of the allegations made against him were put to him.
When asked did he remember putting his hands under the clothes of a named pupil he said he did not and that he “would not have done that to anyone in my class”.
He told gardai he could not remember the names of individual pupils but said some of the names were “vaguely familiar”.
When asked about allegations that he had crouched down beside the one pupil’s desk and fondled him he told gardai “I did not do it”.
When an allegation was put to him that he kissed another pupil on the mouth he said: “I would not have done what he alleges.”
Later in the interview, he denied erecting a “mock courthouse” at the top of the classroom saying: “I definitely don’t remember such activity.”
During the interviews the defendant told gardai he would never have been left alone with pupils and that he never kept pupils back after school.
The jury was told the defendant was released without charge following the third interview and that a file was prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions who subsequently directed he be charged.
In her evidence, Detective Garda Deirdre Foley confirmed that she made contact with the defendant on June 18, 2012 and that he agreed to travel to Limerick to facilitate the preferring of charges against him.
The jury was told he presented himself at a garda station in Limerick as arranged and that he first appeared before the District Court on June 21, 2012.
Being questioned by Kathleen Leader BL, defending, Det Garda Foley said she could not recall if there was a large media presence in court on the day.
Ms Leader put it to her there was a large media presence and that they “seemed to take particular interest” in her client’s case.
She said the defendant was “pursued” by members of the media as he left the court and she suggested that reporters had been informed of his appearance in court beforehand.
Det Garda Foley said she had not spoken to any members of the media about the case and that “no details were given by me to members of the media”.
The jury has also heard that in January 2014, the defendant unsuccessfully applied to the High Court to have the case against him stopped because of delay and prejudicial publicity.
In March of this year, the Supreme Court refused an appeal giving the “green light” for the trial to proceed. The trial continues.