Monday 25 September 2017

Louis 'pleased' after judge gives six-month sentence to man who made sex claims

Tom Tuite

LOUIS Walsh is "pleased and relieved" after a man who falsely accused him of sexual assault was sentenced to six months in jail.

But before he could be transported to prison, Leonard Watters (24) was released from custody after he lodged papers to appeal the severity of the sentence.

The former dance teacher had pleaded guilty last November to making unfounded claims that the 'X Factor' judge sexually assaulted him in the toilets of Dublin's Krystle nightclub last April.

Yesterday, a court heard how he was a "Walter Mitty"-type character who had received €800,000 compensation after suffering burns as a child, but frittered it away on drink and cars.

Watters had admitted making false reports to gardai at Harcourt Terrace garda station on June 20 last and at his home on June 28 last and appeared at Dublin District Court yesterday to face sentencing.

After reading psychological reports on Watters, Judge Dermot Dempsey said he had sympathy for the father-of-two from Woodview, Navan, Co Meath.

However, he went on to say that Watters was a public risk and had put Walsh "through a lot of pain and anguish".

Judge Dempsey said he was satisfied that placing Watters under supervision was not appropriate as he imposed concurrent six-month terms.

Afterwards Watters, who remained silent and showed no emotion during the hearing, indicated that he intended to appeal the severity of the sentence.

Judge Dempsey set appeal bail at the sum of €400 -- of which €100 had to be lodged.

After the money was handed into court and he signed his bond, Watters was released from custody and left the courthouse pending the appeal.

Defence solicitor Cahir O'Higgins told reporters outside court: "He hopes to continue to make good progress in his rehabilitation and hopefully an appeal court will see the matter in a different light.

"He has asked me to speak on his behalf because he does not have the skillset to deal with the level of scrutiny he has come under."

Last night, Mr Walsh said he would not be commenting on the case, pending the appeal.

But his spokeswoman said: "Louis is both pleased and relieved with the verdict".

Detective Inspector Michael Cryan had earlier told Judge Dempsey that he visited Watters at his home on June 27, where CCTV footage from the nightclub was shown to him.

"It became clear from CCTV it did not support his allegations," Det Insp Cryan said, adding that Watters then "admitted that the allegation was false".

Mr O'Higgins told the court that Watters came from a respectable family.

However, he is now regarded as "a pariah in his community", and thought of "as a Walter Mitty" and a liar.

At the age of 13, Watters suffered serious burns in an accident that left him scarred and played havoc with his schooling.

At the age of 18, he was awarded €800,000 in compensation, which he frittered away over a two-year period on "fancy cars" and alcohol, "drinking two bottles of Southern Comfort a day".

The defence said Watters had apologised publicly for the "disgusting" allegations and to this day could not explain why he had made them.

Watters was described by the defence solicitor as having a "fragile mind".

Irish Independent

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