Saturday 20 January 2018

False Louis claims were a cry for help, court told

Leonard
Watters
outside the
Circuit Court
in Dublin
yesterday
Leonard Watters outside the Circuit Court in Dublin yesterday

Tom Tuite

A FORMER dance teacher was "crying out for help" when he made unfounded allegations that he was sexually assaulted by 'X-Factor' judge Louis Walsh, an appeal court was told yesterday.

Leonard Watters (24), a father of two from Woodview, Navan, Co Meath, was given a six-month term in January at Dublin District Court but was released within minutes after he lodged papers to appeal the severity of the sentence.

Watters had pleaded guilty to making up unfounded claims that the pop guru sexually assaulted him in the toilets of the Krystle nightclub, in Dublin city centre, in April 2011.

He admitted that he made false reports to gardai at Harcourt Terrace garda station, on June 20 last year and at his home on June 28 last year.

Yesterday, during an appeal hearing before Judge Katherine Delahunt at the Circuit Court in Dublin, defence solicitor Cahir O'Higgins said his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of severe burns as a child.

He said that on the night his client met Mr Walsh he became "star-struck" and his actions were described in court as "a cry for help". On that night he had been "obliterated by alcohol" and acted in "the weirdest, strangest way", Mr O'Higgins said.

He asked the court to note that when Watters was aged 11 he suffered severe burns which covered parts of his face, limbs and abdomen. He received about €1m in compensation but spent the money on cars, and holidays for friends and family members.

He was unable to keep up repayments on a house and suffered from alcoholism. The lawyer said that, as a result of his false claims, Watters had become regarded as a "pariah", "a figure of ridicule" and a "Walter Mitty".

The lawyer asked the judge to note that Watters no longer drinks, is involved in charity work, has been trying to get on to an educational course and is committed to being a good father to his own children.The court was asked to consider suspending the sentence or imposing a community service order as Watters was petrified at the prospect of being jailed.

Detective Inspector Michael Cryan outlined the evidence against Watters, explaning that on April 9 last year, Watters had been socialising in Dublin and met Mr Walsh and friends in a city centre bar.

He travelled with them to Krystle nightclub on Harcourt Street. "At about 4.30am, on April 10, he approached a garda on the beat and alleged he had been sexually assaulted by Mr Walsh in the toilets of the nightclub," Det Insp Cryan said.

Det Insp Cryan met him at Pearse St station on June 14 last year and Watters made the same allegations to him and gave a statement of complaint. Watters was invited to make alterations to his statement but did not. He was brought by a garda to Krystle nightclub and pointed out the toilets where he alleged the assault happened.

On June 24 last year, Det Insp Cryan interviewed Mr Walsh. "The allegations were put to him and he totally denied it," the court was told.

Three days later, Watters was re-interviewed at his home and was shown CCTV footage from Krystle nightclub. It became clear the CCTV did not support his claims and Watters then "accepted that he made it up, that the allegation was false".

He was arrested the following day and admitted that Mr Walsh did not sexually assault him but claimed someone else did.

The judge noted that Watters's approach to the 'Irish Sun' newspaper with his story occurred after he had made his bogus complaint to gardai.

Judge Delahunt, who also has the power to increase Watters's sentence, will give her decision this Friday.

Irish Independent

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