Soldier who exposed himself loses appeal
Published 16/07/2011 | 05:00
A former army corporal who exposed himself to two women while socialising at a hotel has lost a challenge to his demotion to the rank of private.
Private Damien McDonagh (27), a medal-winning Army Ranger who served in Liberia and Kosovo, also grabbed the women's heads.
One of the women was a civilian and the other an army colleague, and Pte McDonagh called the civilian a "dog's bollox", a courtmartial heard.
Pte McDonagh, who is attached to the Second Infantry Battalion, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, appealed that June 2009 court-martial ruling demoting him.
Yesterday, a three-judge Courtsmartial Appeal Court rejected arguments by Pte McDonagh that the demotion was disproportionate as it would lead to a €6,500 loss in salary a year.
The military judge's decision was "impeccable", having practically and realistically weighed all relevant factors, it said.
The demotion arose as a result of incidents on St Patrick's Day 2007 at the Best Western Boyne Valley Hotel and Country Club, Drogheda, Co Louth, where Pte McDonagh was attending a function to celebrate the passing out of recruit platoons to which he had been an instructor.
In June 2009, Pte McDonagh pleaded guilty to charges arising out of those incidents. He admitted assaulting a civilian woman by putting his hands around her head and pulling it towards him.
He also admitted grabbing a female private by her head and pulling it towards him and exposing himself in front of the women.
He admitted that he used inappropriate language towards the civilian woman and, at the same venue, becoming involved in an affray with another soldier.
Pte McDonagh was fined €500 and demoted but appealed only against the demotion.
In its judgment, the appeal court noted Pte McDonagh told the military judge he had consumed great quantities of alcohol from 2pm that day, was drunk and unable to recall when the function ended.
He had unreservedly apologised for conduct he freely acknowledged as unacceptable.
The court acknowledged the strong supporting evidence of good character and also recognised that his behaviour may have been once-off offending behaviour fuelled by excessive alcohol.
However, the court said it could see no other choice but to uphold the demotion.