Man put hand up woman's dress and tugged at her underwear in daytime sex assault at Fleadh Cheoil

By Gordon Deegan

An Ennis woman was the victim of a daylight sex assault when a 36-year-old man came up from behind her on a crowded street during last year’s Fleadh and put his hand up her dress and tugged at her underwear.

At Ennis District Court today, Inspector Tom Kennedy described the sex assault during last August’s Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Ennis “as a very nasty thing to happen”.

In the case, the west Clare man has pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of the 44-year-old woman at High Street, Ennis at 1.30pm in the afternoon of the Wednesday of last year’s Fleadh Cheoil.

Outlining the facts in the case today, Insp Kennedy said that on August 16th last, the woman was enjoying the Fleadh on the streets of Ennis “when quite suddenly, she gets tugged from underneath her dress”.

Insp Kennedy said: “The woman becomes aware of a hand squeezing her bottom. She screams out as a result of this and luckily there are Gardaí located nearby and they are alerted to what happened."

Insp Kennedy said that in her statement, the woman said that immediately after the assault, the man was crouching down behind her trying to disguise himself with a baseball cap he was wearing.

Insp Kennedy said: “In her statement, she was very much taken aback and got a dreadful fright and screamed out at the time. Gardaí were on top of the situation very quickly.”

Insp Kennedy said that the accused scarpered to a nearby lane. Insp Kennedy said that the victim was in court yesterday.

Solicitor for the accused, Stiofán Fitzpatrick said that his client offered his unconditional apologies to his victim.

Mr Fitzpatrick said that his client is a very vulnerable man and that a Probation Report would be essential in the case. He said: "My client is someone who struggles with mental health issues." The solicitor said that his client was the victim of a very bad physical assault last May.

Mr Fitzpatrick said that his client resides with his mother. He said: "He is her main carer and he doesn't leave the house on a regular basis."

Judge Patrick Durcan said that reporting restrictions are to continue in the case and adjourned the case for a pre-sentence Probation Report. Judge Durcan further remanded the accused on bail to re-appear before the court on May 9.

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