By Liam Heylin
The jury in the case against a man accused of photographing his young children naked and sexually assaulting them found him not guilty on all charges.
The jury of seven men and five women took approximately two and a half hours to reach their unanimous verdicts on all counts.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan addressed the accused after the verdicts were delivered, saying, “These are not empty words, he came in to this courtroom an innocent man, he leaves the courtroom an innocent man.”
The accused man was hugged by his parents who were present in court throughout the week-long trial.
The defence in the case was that the children’s mother coached them to make up the complaints after the collapse of her relationship with her husband.
Defence senior counsel said that sexual assaults allegedly spanning over four years were never witnessed or suspected in that period but that six weeks after the father left the family home the complaints were made by the children.
When the trial commenced last week, the 42-year-old denied a total of 35 charges. Sixteen of the charges were for sexually assaulting his son and one of the counts was of neglecting him. There were 17 counts of sexually assaulting his daughter and one of neglecting her.
Before the jury was sent out to commence their deliberations, Judge Brian O’Callaghan told them that in respect of seven of the charges of sexually assaulting the boy, the jury should record the words, “not guilty by direction of the trial judge”, and should then proceed to deliberate on the remaining 28 charges.
They found him not guilty on all those 28 charges shortly before 5pm.
In recorded video evidence in the trial the boy said, “He put his hand under my clothes. It just feels so weird with his fingers – a bad feeling… I would say stop it, he would stop it but then he does it again the next minute.” Asked how many times it happened, he replied, “Millions.” “My dad took pictures of me. He does it often. He would be sending them to his dad and it is really embarrassing. I saw pictures (on his father’s phone) of me going to the bathroom and coming out of the shower.
“He would not take it of the upper part, he would take it of the lower part, my privates and my bum.” Asked how he knew his father photographed him coming out of the shower when he was about to get a towel, he replied, “He has his phone up. The back of it started flashing. I heard the sound – tsh, like that.”
The defendant’s daughter said of her father, “Most of the time he is mad at me, I don’t know why... He took pictures when I was out of the shower. I was not dressed. I was only wearing a vest.” Mr Roche said the Tusla official who visited the home of the family reported that the defendant’s wife seemed to be preoccupied with undermining the defendant and she may have coached the children in their complaints.
The mother of the two children said, “I cannot comment on how she interpreted events…I have in no way interfered with the state witnesses. I stood back and let the authorities do their job.” She later said as she wept in the witness box about the complaints given by the children, “How could any mother make up such a fact?”
As the judge was thanking the jury, the defendant’s ex-wife walked out of the courtroom.