A man was put on trial by judge and jury yesterday charged with harassing four teenaged girls on a bus journey and sexually assaulting one of them.
Anthony Quigley, aged 45, of 14 Roches Heights, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, pleaded not guilty to charges including one of sexual assault and four of harassment on December 4 last year in the course of a bus journey.
Imelda Kelly, prosecution barrister, said the alleged sexual assault consisted of the accused man putting his hand on the teenaged girl’s thigh when she was sitting beside him on the bus journey.
One of the girls said they were sitting on four of the five seats at the back of the bus and that the accused man came down and sat on the fifth seat.
"He shook our hands. I immediately locked in to stranger danger.
“I started coughing. He started rubbing my back and patting my shoulder. I was terrified,” she said.
The same teenager, who gave evidence by video link to the courtroom at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, testified: “He patted my left thigh a few times — my upper thigh. He was pushing close to me and breathing on me. I was terrified. He was invading my privacy. He smelled awful. He asked if we liked his after shave. He asked if we had Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook.”
Niamh Ó Donnabháin, defending, put it to the witness that the jokes were not of a sexual nature and the teenager agreed with that. She also agreed with the barrister that he could have been touching her leg to get her attention. The barrister said the defendant’s view was that he was only engaging in banter. The witness disagreed but added, “In his mind, possibly.”
Another witness described the defendant’s jokes as racist and sexist. She said there was reference to winning the lottery and that he said if he did he would take them on holidays and would love to stay in a room with her.
She said she felt uncomfortable and he asked about boyfriends. “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.
Ms Ó Donnabháin BL said the defendant was joking and had no intention of being threatening. The case before Judge Brian O’Callaghan and a jury of four women and eight men will continue today.