Thursday 26 April 2018

Man who falsely accused Louis Walsh of sexual assault could face jail

Louis Walsh. Photo: PA
Louis Walsh. Photo: PA
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

AN UNEMPLOYED dance teacher was warned he could face jail after apologising for falsely accusing X Factor judge Louis Walsh of groping him in a nightclub.

Leonard Watters pleaded guilty to making two false reports to Irish police that the pop music mogul sexually assaulted him in Dublin nightspot Krystle last April.

The 24-year-old, who was described in court as a Walter Mitty type character, went into the witness box in the city's District Court to say sorry to Mr Walsh.

"I would like to sincerely apologise to Mr Louis Walsh for all the stuff I put him through. The allegation was false," he said.

Judge Dermot Dempsey ordered a probation and welfare report on the defendant and adjourned sentencing to January 5.

"I'm considering a custodial sentence given the gravity of it," warned the judge, who can impose a fine of €634 per charge and/or 12 months in prison.

"It's a very serious matter."

Watters, a father-of-two from Navan, Co Meath, has previous convictions for breaching a barring order under domestic violence laws and driving offences.

Detective Inspector Michael Cryan told the court the defendant had claimed the assault happened on Saturday, April 9, after Westlife had performed in Dublin's 02.

Watters and Walsh had been socialising in a pub and travelled to Krystle together, he said, but at about 4am to 4.30am Watters approached a Garda officer on patrol on outside the celebrity spot on Harcourt Street alleging he had been sexually assaulted by Walsh.

The defendant was taken to Mountjoy Garda Station where he made the same allegation, before being examined at a sexual assault unit - which revealed bruising in his genital area.

More than two months later, on June 20, he showed investigators the toilet in the nightclub where he alleged the offence took place and made his first formal statement.

Within days Mr Walsh was interviewed under caution and denied the allegation, added Det Insp Cryan.

Watters made a second false statement on June 27 and was shown CCTV from the nightclub.

"It became obvious the CCTV did not support his allegations," he added.

When Watters was arrested at his home on June 28 he admitted Walsh did not sexually assault him.

"He continued to claim he was sexually assaulted in the toilets but that Louis Walsh did not do it," the Detective added.

In mitigation, solicitor Cahir O'Higgins said his client was now seen as a pariah in his home town and a Walter Mitty type character.

He maintained Watters was a fragile, vulnerable person who was psychologically shaky and recently self harmed. His respected parents have been left traumatised by being in the public domain.

The early school leaver suffered severe burns in an accident when he was 12 or 13 and received a large award, which he made his way through staggeringly quickly, the court was told.

The former ballroom dance teacher, who is on disability benefit of €188, has been left unemployable, the solicitor added.

Outside the court, Mr O'Higgins said Watters - who was dressed in a black suit, black shirt and black and white stripped tie - absolutely and without reservation accepted Walsh did absolutely nothing wrong.

"He is extremely sorry and wishes to formally and publicly apologise for any hurt or any pain he caused to Louis Walsh," he said.

"Whatever occurred in Krystle nightclub has nothing to do with Louis Walsh in any shape or form."

Mr O'Higgins said his client considered himself blessed not to be jailed.

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