Saturday 21 September 2019

Berlin hypnotist dodges spell in prison for groping flight attendant at Terminal 1

Given suspended sentence
Given suspended sentence

Tom Tuite

A German hypnotist has been spared a spell in jail for groping an air hostess at Dublin Airport while he was waiting for a connecting flight to New York.

Ulrich Trappe, 45, “stared and smiled” at the upset flight attendant when she turned around to confront him, Dublin District Court was told today.

The divorced father-of-two was given a one-month suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to the sexual assault which happened on Sunday in Terminal 1.

Trappe, with an address in Berlin, Germany, was “exasperated” when he was brought before Judge John Cheatle after telling gardai it was game he would not dare play in Germany or America.

Garda Jack Farrell told the court Trappe “made no reply” when charged at Ballymun Garda station.

In an outline of the allegations, Garda Farrell told the court that gardai received a call from Dublin Airport Police who had detained the Berliner for an alleged sexual assault on a female flight attendant at Terminal 1 in Dublin Airport.

The Director of Public Prosecutions directed summary disposal, meaning the defendant should be tried at district court level and not in the circuit court, which has tougher sentencing powers.

Judge Cheatle accepted jurisdiction.

Garda Farrell told the court there was an objection to bail because the accused was a “flight risk”. He had no ties to Ireland, he added.

He told the court there was clear CCTV footage of the incident taking place.

Defence solicitor Tony Collier told Judge Cheatle his client had no previous convictions. He had flown in from Berlin but was transiting through Dublin Airport on his way to New York.

It was not clear whether his trip was for work or pleasure, the solicitor said, adding that his client was exasperated and anxious to get home.

After a brief recess in the case, Mr Collier said Trappe was pleading guilty.

Garda Farrell said the flight attendant was not physically hurt but was more hurt emotionally. However, she identified Trappe to gardai.

She was not present for the hearing but in her statement she described to Garda Farrell how she had been going through the security area in Terminal 1 on Sunday when the assault took place.

“The accused approached her from the rear and grabbed her buttocks for a couple of seconds and proceeded to stare. When the injured party turned to confront the man, he stared and smiled at her”.

His solicitor told Judge Cheatle that Trappe’s explanation to gardai for his behaviour was, “He was playing a game he would not dare play in America or Germany”.

The garda agreed with the solicitor that Trappe’s behaviour in the station was erratic. He was touching the Garda’s tie and the officer had to tell him “to keep his feet and his hands to himself”.

When his fingerprints were taken he was touching gardai on their legs, thighs and feet.

Mr Collier said his client, who did not address the court, had been diagnosed with depression and was on medication to balance his mood. His bizarre behaviour and the way it persisted was probably the most unusual feature of the case, the solicitor said.

He asked the judge to note that Trappe had suffered a psychiatric episode. Trappe wanted to leave it behind him, go back to Germany to his parents, and have two weeks’ rest, the court heard.

Mr Collier said his client was an unemployed hypnotist.

Pleading for leniency, Mr Collier said he was not minimising the crime in any way but he asked the court to note it was on the lower of the scale in respect of these offences, and the victim was an adult.

It lasted for seconds and Trappe had touched her on the outside of her clothing, the solicitor added.

Sentencing, Judge Cheatle said it was a very unusual case. The victim was undoubtedly  touched inappropriately and she was entitled to go about her place of business without this type of interference, he told the Berliner.

He imposed a one-month sentence but suspended it on condition Trappe did not re-offend within the next year.

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