Wednesday 28 September 2016

Man accused of sexually assaulting patient in Mater Private Hospital goes on trial

Declan Conlon

Published 12/06/2015 | 08:40

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

A man accused of sexually assaulting a patient while working as a care assistant in the Mater Private Hospital has gone on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

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Folajimmy Awode (31) of Ballinteer House, Tyrellstown, Dublin 15 has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault of a female patient at the Mater Private Hospital, Eccles Street, Dublin 7 in November 2013.

The woman, who cannot be identified, alleges that she was awoken by a rubbing sensation on her breast, and upon opening her eyes saw Mr Awode lifting his hand from her body.

In a garda interview that was read to the court, Mr Awode said he went to the alleged victim's bedroom because someone was coughing, and went to her bedside for a few seconds to check on her and saw she was asleep.

Catherine McKeown, who was in charge of all nursing and care staff that night, gave evidence that she was called to the ward shortly after midnight and told of the situation. She said she informed Mr Awode of the accusation and he replied “No, that did not happen”.

The alleged victim entered the hospital on a date in November 2013 to have surgery the next day. She gave evidence that she was given painkillers and valium for pain relief and to help her get to sleep. Mr Awode was working as a part-time care assistant in her ward and cleaned the toilet in her room that evening at her request.

She went to sleep at about 10.30pm and slept on her left side for some time until she felt rubbing on her right breast, she said. She opened her eyes and the sensation seemed to stop. “Because of where I was, in hospital, you're just not expecting this to be the case , so I closed my eyes again,” she said.

The sensation resumed when she once again closed her eyes. She then turned over and allegedly saw Mr Awode standing by her bed and moving his hand away from her body. “I looked at him, he looked totally stunned and just took off,” she alleged.

Marian Carey, who occupied another bed in the room that night, told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that as she lay in bed she saw Mr Awode entering and quickly leaving the room twice, before entering a third time and going to the alleged victim's bedside.

Ms Carey said she could only see his legs as there was a curtain partially drawn around the bed, and that he remained at her bedside for two or three minutes before rushing out.

“He scurried out of the room and almost immediately (the complainant) jumped out of the bed,” said Ms Carey. She said the woman “shouted that someone had been at her chest”.

In his garda interview, Mr Awode said he spoke to Ms Carey on the same occasion he checked on the alleged victim and asked was she okay. Ms Carey said this conversation did not happen, and that no-one was coughing in the room.

Michael Hourigan BL, defending, asked the complainant if she told a nurse she may have been dreaming, but she said that she had told the nurse “I wasn't dreaming”.

Nurse Trisana Joseph, who was first to meet the woman after the alleged incident, gave evidence that the woman had said she felt she was dreaming when she first felt the sensation, but then woke up when she felt it again. She also said the woman looked stressed and asked if there had been someone in the room.

Dr Padraic O'Neill, a retired neurosurgeon, gave evidence that the medication given to the alleged victim would have had no cognitive or sedative effect on her.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury.

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