Friday 23 June 2017

Man jailed for sexually assaulting three girls at Irish swimming pool

Cristian Diaz admitted sex assaults
Cristian Diaz admitted sex assaults

Michael Donnelly

A man has been jailed seven months for sexually assaulting three young girls in a Co Fermanagh swimming pool last year.

Spaniard Cristian Diaz (35), a Madrid University graduate, was jailed after appearing at Dungannon Crown Court.

Judge Stephen Fowler QC told the electrical engineer that while he accepted he did not pose a serious risk of harm, the courts considered all sexual touching of young children as serious, particularly when committed in a public arena where children should have been able to feel safe, and where parents allowed them to go in safety.

Judge Fowler, who also put Diaz on the Sex Offenders' Register for 10 years, said his young victims had been understandably left confused, distressed and upset.

He added it was also a serious case as it involved three different children, during three separate incidents on three different dates, and all in a public place.

However, in mitigation, Judge Fowler said that Diaz had pleaded guilty and, while not at the first opportunity, it had vindicated the children, spared them from having to give evidence in court, and was an indication of a level of remorse on Diaz's part.

In a statement issued on behalf of the parents, they praised the bravery of their children in coming forward.

"They should be very proud of themselves in helping to stop further harm to members of the public," they said.

The mother of one of his victims said the defendant may have come into Dungannon Crown Court "as Cristian Diaz - but he is going out as a registered sex offender".

Diaz, living at East Bridge Street, Enniskillen, at the time, admitted sexually touching the schoolgirls, aged between nine and 11, in the Lakeland Forum swimming pool in the town on February 24, March 10 and March 12, 2015.

Diaz was sentenced to a total of 14 months, seven to be served in custody, followed by seven on licence.

He has expressed a wish to return to his family home on the outskirts of the Spanish capital afterwards.

Prosecuting counsel Simon Reid told an earlier hearing that the girls had been left frightened, scared and traumatised after Diaz had approached them in the pool and "touched" them outside and over their swimsuits.

Mr Reid said the defendant would either dive into, or duck under, the water beside the girls who later reported being touched by him, and it felt like a "prod or a poke", and that on one occasion the man tried to apologise, telling the youngster, who did not reply, that he was "sorry".

The barrister added that following the complaints, police were able to identify Diaz from CCTV footage pieced together from the dates and times of the assaults.

Diaz, he said, had no criminal record, either here or in Spain.

Mr Reid said an aggravating factor was that the girls were "exposed and vulnerable, swimming in a place where they should have felt safe".

However, Diaz's guilty pleas had saved the girls the trauma of having to relive their ordeal in open court.

Defence barrister Ian Turkington said that a remorseful Diaz, who lost any friends he had made since coming to Enniskillen, accepted the upset, suffering and hurt caused by his actions, which were short-lived, with no skin to skin contact.

Mr Turkington continued that his client, a university graduate, came from a respected family, and that he had a previously clear record, with an impeccable character and work ethic.

"He describes it as the greatest mistake of his life," Mr Turkington added.

Belfast Telegraph

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