| 13.2°C Dublin

Charity shop boss walks free after harassing women

AN ex-president of a conference of Saint Vincent de Paul, who harassed four women at one of its shops, has walked from court without a conviction after making a donation to charity.

Michael Dooley (73), of Lennon Melia Terrace, Dundalk, had denied the charges of harassing the women at the Saint Vincent de Paul shop on Jocelyn Street, Dundalk on dates between January 1, 2001 and the December 30, 2009.


Two weeks ago a special sitting of the district court had heard details of his behaviour and the judge found him guilty.

That court heard that he had put a measuring tape around one woman to measure her bra size and he had given another woman a 'present' of a red thong.

Three of the women were working in the shop because of a placement there through Fas. The fourth, who visited workers in it, was described as having a learning disability.

Judge Flann Brennan said she was satisfied that all the women "were in a vulnerable position" because they perceived themselves to be employees and perceived Michael Dooley "to be the employer."

Judge Brennan yesterday said it was very clear what happened was very upsetting for the injured parties.

The court was previously told the women were pursuing legal actions against Dooley and Judge Brennan said this was "perfectly proper".

Passing sentence, he said he also had to take into account all of the mitigating factors.

Defence barrister Ciaran Oakes said Dooley suffered from a number of health complaints including being a diabetic. He had stents inserted in his heart a number of years ago.

He said the gardai accepted Dooley had co-operated fully with the investigation and there was no question of obstruction by him.

There was undesirable hugging taking place and it was "commonplace", Mr Oakes said.

Judge Brennan said Dooley was "a man of impeccable character other than this", and it was certain he would not be before the courts again.

He said he had to take into consideration the atmosphere that existed in the shop where, "it was quiet clear that, rightly or wrongly, a lot of hugging went on".


He said he (Dooley) had acted in a "very improper manner and it is obvious the injured parties felt very distressed by what he did and what he said".

Taking everything into account Judge Brennan said he was satisfied that it was a case that might be appropriate for a contribution to the court poor box. He said that if a €500 contribution was made it would consider dealing with it by not proceeding to a conviction.

The €500 was made available to the court poor-box and the judge then said he was finding the facts proven and dismissing it under the Probation Act.