Friday 23 February 2018

Garda 'dumbfounded' over female colleague's claims of sexual assault

Tom Tuite

A GARDA sergeant was dumbfounded when he learnt that a female colleague had made sexual assault allegations against him, an appeal court in Dublin heard.

Sgt Martin Woods (50) was convicted at Dublin District Court last year and was fined €2,000 in relation to two counts of sexually assaulting the young woman on dates in March and June 2010.

Sgt Woods, who had pleaded not guilty, is now trying to have his conviction overturned.

His appeal was listed before Judge Sarah Berkeley at the Circuit Court in Dublin yesterday.

In evidence, the female officer alleged that she felt uncomfortable around the sergeant as a result of comments he had made previously.

She said that once, when officers were asked if they would work at the Dublin Horse Show, he had said to her: "Do you want to go to that? You are good at riding."

She alleged that the first incident happened at a Dublin garda station when she went into a room to use a computer. She had leaned over a desk in a small space between two other officers and Sgt Woods then came in to use radio equipment.

The woman alleged that the sergeant "pushed himself up against my behind, put his hands on my waist and started gyrating". She also claimed that while he did that he said "she likes it this way".

She said it lasted a few seconds but made her feel "dirty, vulnerable, unsafe". She began to ring in sick because she did not want to be left alone with the sergeant, she said.

She told state solicitor Domhnall Forde that the second incident happened when she was on duty in the station and had been reading a file. The woman alleged that Sgt Woods walked towards her "and placed his hand on my left breast and said 'wake up there'."

Inspector James Flood told the court that when he questioned Sgt Woods, the 50-year-old rejected the allegations and said he was outraged and dumbfounded and he denied that he had ever touched the woman.

Inspector Flood said the sergeant took issue with the manner in which the female officer depicted him and had also said that he had assisted her in the past.

The appeal continues today.

Irish Independent

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