Wednesday 21 February 2018

Dublin pensioner avoids jail for sexual assault in Tesco supermarket

By Jessica Magee

A 69-year-old Dublin grandfather who sexually assaulted an female acquaintance at a supermarket in what he said was “a moment of madness” has been given a three-year suspended sentence.

The man, who has five children and six grandchildren, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting  the woman in her forties after they bumped into one another at Tesco on 21st November 2009.

Garda Sarah Carroll told prosecuting counsel Colm O'Briain BL that the victim recognised the man as he stood looking at bottles of wine on special offer.

The woman said the man had been a client of her husband's in the past, and that they had had a good relationship.

She said they were chatting for about ten minutes and that the man said how fantastic she looked, but the woman didn't think anything of it. Nor did she mind when he said “come here and give us a kiss” because, she said, he had always been like that.

However the woman said she was entirely stunned and frozen when the man said “come here and give us a feel of one of those,” put his hand up her jumper and grabbed her left breast.

He then said “I've the whole world in my hands, I'll die a happy man,” and told her he'd always fancied her.

She was telling him to stop and pushing him back and she noticed a strong smell of alcohol from him, but she said at the same time she was numb, in shock and frozen.

She said he then said something about wanting to lie her down and get her naked, and referred to having an erection.

He pulled her right hand down and made her touch his penis, and then shoved his right hand down the front of her jeans.

He then stuck his finger inside her vagina and held it there for a number of seconds.

She said she managed to get some distance between them but that he pulled her towards her and kissed her on the lips saying “if you didn't want me to do that you wouldn't have let me.”

The woman said the whole encounter lasted less than 30 minutes.

Garda Carroll said CCTV footage from Tesco didn't show the incident, but confirmed the presence of both the victim and the accused at the relevant times.

She said the accused was arrested in October 2010, almost a year after the incident, and initially said he didn't remember being in Tesco that day.

He said the woman “couldn't be the full shilling” in order to make the allegations that she had made.

Defence counsel Justin McQuade BL said his client is “absolutely ashamed and utterly remorseful” about his actions.

He read out a letter written by the accused to the victim, in which he apologised and said he has “asked the man above” to forgive him.

“There are 26 letters in the alphabet but they are not enough to say how sorry I am. I do not know what came over me that day. I am and always will be for the rest of my days, so sorry,” the letter reads.

The court heard that the accused has no previous convictions and has been married for 46 years.

The man's son broke down in court as he read out a heartfelt letter describing his father as a good, hard-working, sociable man with a good heart, who gave his children a happy childhood in a house always filled with “plenty of laughter.”

“I don't know what he was thinking that day, it was a moment of madness,” said the accused's son, who offered his sincere apologies to the victim on behalf of his family.

Judge Patricia Ryan instructed the accused to comply with probation and welfare services for three years.

The court heard that the accused has offered to pay €2,900 as a practical gesture of remorse to cover counselling at the Rape Crisis Centre for the victim and the cost of her Open University Course.

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