Monday 19 February 2018

Former Leinster rugby star guilty of festival sex assault

David Poff of Lower Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, denied he was reponsible for a sexual assault at Longitude music festival.
David Poff of Lower Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, denied he was reponsible for a sexual assault at Longitude music festival.

Andrew Phelan

A former Leinster rugby player has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a music festival performer by grabbing her bottom while whispering a lewd demand into her ear.

David Poff (20) drunkenly groped the woman's buttocks from behind as she walked through a crowd and told her: "give me your t**s".

The victim, also in her 20s, broke down in tears as she gave evidence and told a court she had felt "violated".

Poff, who has played for Leinster under-19 and under-20 and is currently with Old Wesley RFC, had denied he was responsible for the sex assault at Longitude in Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, on July 16, 2016.

However, the victim identified him in court and said there was "no doubt in her mind" that Poff was the culprit.

Judge Patricia McNamara adjourned sentencing at Tallaght District Court.

Poff from Mayfield, Lower Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the woman at Marlay Park, in Grange Road. He was also found guilty of public drunkenness but not guilty of breaching the peace. He had denied all charges and did not give evidence in the case.

The victim told the court she and her friend got drinks and were walking around the festival to get their bearings before her performance.

The pair walked through the woods and back to a bridge, with a one-way system in place. She was chatting to her friend, who was one step ahead of her and to the right.

"We were having a nice time and then someone grabbed me from behind, grabbed my a**e. He had a really good hold of me. He leaned over me and said 'give me your t**s'," she told the court.

"I pushed him away and said what are you at? Get your f***ing hands off me."

She threw her drink - whiskey and ginger - on him and walked away.

As she did so, he shouted "shut the f**k up, you fat bitch, you f**king slut".

She saw a man in a high-vis jacket who she thought was a security guard but he was a steward looking after safety at the lake.

"I said to him, this guy is after grabbing me, he's going around grabbing girls, you have to kick him out," she told the court.

He could not leave his post and she said she then saw a garda and ran and told him what had happened.

The man who grabbed her was trying to walk "against the grain" of people and was "pretty much in the same area". The garda told him to stay where he was and took the victim's details.

She burst into tears and the garda told her he would call her later. She did not perform because she was too upset, and went home. She made a Garda statement the next day.

The victim identified Poff who was sitting in court. State solicitor Karen Wilson asked how she knew it was him. She said: "When I turned around he still had a hold of me so there was no doubt who he was."

Judge McNamara said she was satisfied the victim's evidence had been clear and concise.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said: "It has made me question my safety at gigs where I work as a performer. It has made me a bit more aware of drunk lads when I perform at gigs," she said in her statement. "I watch my back."

She said she no longer performed at festivals and had lost income as a result.

The judge adjourned the case to a date in September for the production of a pre-sentence probation report.

Irish Independent

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