Thursday 18 January 2018

Wheelchair user accused of exposing himself and touching young woman has 'learning difficulties', court hears

James Callaghan (53) of Decies Road, Ballyfermot
James Callaghan (53) of Decies Road, Ballyfermot

Andrew Phelan

A wheelchair user accused of exposing himself and touching a young woman's behind on a Dublin bus may have "issues" in his capacity to answer the case against him, a court heard.

James Callaghan (53) did not appear in court to face a sexual assault charge over the alleged incident.

Blanchardstown District Court heard he had "certain learning difficulties" and a judge adjourned the case to give his lawyer time to consult him.

Judge David McHugh adjourned the case in his absence.

Mr Callaghan is alleged to have assaulted the woman on a bus during a journey in the west of the city.

Mr Callaghan, with an address at Decies Road, Ballyfermot, is charged with one count of sexual assault on the woman, who was in her late teens.

The incident is alleged to have happened on February 1, 2016.

Defence solicitor Simon Fleming said he had been speaking to members of Mr Callaghan's family yesterday.

"He is in a wheelchair and has certain learning difficulties," Mr Fleming said today.

The solicitor was seeking an adjournment because he was "having to deal with third parties to get through to him."

Mr Fleming said he had received all documents he needed in disclosure from the prosecution.

"I am going to have to explore capacity issues," he added.

Judge McHugh adjourned the case to a date in April.

Previously, the judge had accepted jurisdiction to deal with the case at district court level.

At that hearing, which Mr Callaghan attended, Garda Sergeant Maria Callaghan handed evidence of the defendant’s arrest, charge and caution in to court by certificate.

She said the DPP was directing summary disposal of the case at district court level, subject to the judge accepting jurisdiction to deal with it.

Outlining the prosecution’s case, she said it was alleged that the defendant was on the no 40 bus on the Neilstown Road when engaged the alleged victim in conversation.

She was a “young female who was a passenger” on the bus.

“He proceeded to touch her on the buttocks and expose his penis to her,” Sgt O’Callaghan alleged.

Judge McHugh accepted jurisdiction after hearing the summary of the allegations.

Sgt Callaghan told the judge there was CCTV evidence available from the bus.

Free legal aid was granted after Mr Fleming told the judge Mr Callaghan was in receipt of disability allowance.

The defendant has not yet indicated how he intends to plead to the charge.

He was remanded on continuing bail in his absence today.

The charge against the accused is under Section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act 1990.

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