SVdP man guilty of harassing shop staff pays €500
A FORMER senior Saint Vincent de Paul official escaped a conviction yesterday despite being found guilty of harassing four women at a charity shop.
Michael Dooley (73) denied the charges of harassing the women at the SVdP shop on Jocelyn Street in Dundalk, Co Louth on dates between January 1, 2001 and December 30, 2009.
Two weeks ago, a special sitting of Dundalk District Court heard details of his behaviour and the judge found him guilty.
Yesterday, the case was dismissed under the Probation Act after Dooley made a €500 donation to the court poor box.
One of the victims, who did not wish to be named, said: "He shouldn't have got away with it, €500 is not enough. We thought he would be sent away, a suspended sentence at least."
The court heard earlier this month that he had put a measuring tape around one woman to check her bra size and he had given another woman a 'present' of a red thong.
Three of the women were working in the shop through a placement with Fas. The fourth woman was a customer who was visiting workers.
At that time, Judge Flann Brennan said he was satisfied all the women "were in a vulnerable position" because they perceived themselves to be employees and Dooley "to be the employer".
Yesterday, the judge said it was clear that what happened was very upsetting for the injured parties.
Passing sentence, he said he also had to take into account all of the mitigating factors.
Defence barrister Ciaran Oakes said Dooley, of Lennon Melia Terrace, Dundalk, suffered from a number of health complaints including diabetes and a heart condition. He said gardai accepted Dooley had cooperated fully with them. There had been undesirable hugging taking place and it was "commonplace", Mr Oakes said.
Judge Brennan said Dooley was "a man of impeccable character other than this", and it was certain he would not be before the courts again. He had to take into consideration the atmosphere that existed in the shop where "it was quite clear that, rightly or wrongly, a lot of hugging went on".
The judge said he was satisfied that it was a case that might be appropriate for a contribution to the court poor box.
After the sum of €500 was made available to the court poor box, the judge said he was dismissing the case under the Probation Act.