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Thursday 20 June 2019

Teenage girls were accosted on bus by sex pest, court hears

Man made inappropriate jokes, comments and touches

A middle-aged North Cork man has been remanded in custody for sentence after a jury unanimously found him guilty of harassing four teenage girls and sexually assaulting one of them, and assaulting another, on a bus journey to Mitchelstown last year.

Anthony Quigley (45) had denied the sexual assault, assault and harassment charges as well as a public order charge when he was arraigned at Cork Circuit Criminal Court but a jury of eight men and four women took three hours and 28 minutes on Wednesday to find him unanimously guilty of all seven charges.

Judge Brian O'Callaghan remanded Quigley from Roches Heights, Mitchelstown, in custody to appear again on June 28th when a date will be fixed for sentence after Quigley is sentenced on an unrelated assault matter for which he was convicted earlier this year.

One of Quigley's teenage victims, who were all aged 15 and 16 at the time, told the court how they were travelling on a bus from Cork to Mitchelstown on December 4, 2018 and sitting on four of the five back seats in the bus when Quigley sat down beside them on the fifth seat.

"He was telling racist jokes - about Chinese or people with dots on their foreheads. He asked us our names. We just said our first names. He shook our hands. I immediately locked in to 'stranger danger'," said the girl who gave evidence by video link at the Anglesea Street Courthouse.

"I started coughing. He started rubbing my back and patting my shoulder. I was terrified. He patted my left thigh a few times - my upper thigh. He was pushing close to me and breathing on me. He was invading my privacy. I was terrified," said the girl.

She said that Quigley smelled awful and he asked them if they liked his aftershave before he asked them if they were on Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook before he wrote his mobile phone number on a piece of paper which he handed to them.

Another of the girls, also aged 15, whom Quigley started calling Blondie, said the jokes that Quigley told them were racist and sexist while he also said that if he won the Lotto he would take them on a foreign holiday and he would love to stay in hotel room with her before he asked her if she had a boyfriend.

"He kept saying I was hot and fair sexy. I was scared to get up. He kept saying inappropriate stuff about how hot I was. He was touching (friend's name) on the thigh. He wrote down his number and said I should call him and send him compliments. He kept saying he hopes I call him. I kind of froze," she said.

The jury heard memos of Garda interviews with Quigley in which he started telling gardai jokes and began singing as Det Garda Denise Fitzgerald and Det Garda Denis Ryan questioned him about his behaviour on the bus on the day in question.

Asked by Det Garda Ryan about inappropriate contact with the girl whom he touched, he said: "That is not my style of thing. You are saying inappropriate, I am saying banter. Off my head might have been an easier way to describe my antics."

Quigley denied the charges and told his barrister, Niamh Ó Donnabhain BL, that he was involved in a serious car crash in 1999 and ended up spending 13 days in a coma. "I hit a wall and I sustained a brain injury. Every time people see me they think I am drunk and I am not drunk. I have a slur in my speech."

He said he sat on the fifth seat at the back of the bus on the day in question where the four girls were sitting because it was the last seat left and that he shook hands with them as he sat down and told them some jokes, including one about Denmark, an elephant and a loaf of bread.

One of them was laughing and then ended up coughing frantically so he tapped her on the back. "I put my hand on her knee and said, 'you OK?' and she said, 'yeah', said Quigley who denied there was any sexual intent or motivation behind his actions or that he was intoxicated at the time.

He said that when a passenger left further up the bus he shook hands with the four girls and left them to go to the vacant seat and he heard them say, "Jesus, he's a gas man". He insisted all he had engaged in with the girls was banter. "If a fella is being brought to court for this what is the world coming to?"

Cross-examined by prosecution barrister Imelda Kelly BL, Quigley said he had told the girls if he won the Lotto he would take them away for a holiday to Disneyland but he said nothing about sharing a room with them and their allegations against him were "a fabrication - them girls are exaggerating".

When Ms Kelly put it to Quigley that the four girls were consistent in their evidence, including an allegation that Quigley said one girl's mother was a prostitute, he said: "They were coached. Nothing sexual was told. Not even a curse was said."

Corkman

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