Teen on trial for sexually assaulting woman in lift

A woman told a jury yesterday of how she was followed by a young Cork man and sexually attacked in the lift of her apartment building in the city, writes Liam Heylin.

The 17-year-old male went on trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday where he admitted falsely imprisoning the woman in the lift and assaulting her causing harm, but he denied the charge of sexual assault and was put on trial for that.

The woman, originally from France, testified she was staying in an apartment in Cork City on St Stephen’s Day and went out to meet some friends in a pub and later went to a house party.

At 6.30am she decided not to get a taxi but to walk home through the city centre as it was quiet and dry.

She said a man asked her the time and she said she did not know. He then asked her for a kiss and she supposed that she had misheard him. However, he kept asking for a kiss. She said he forced his way into the building despite her efforts to hold him back.

She said he came into the lift and was standing very close to her and again kept asking for a kiss.

“He repeatedly tried to lift me up putting his hand under my bum. It was just, ‘Can I have a kiss?’ on constant. I tried to push him away at this stage. I was very afraid of the violence,” she testified.

She said she was unable to get out of the lift as he stopped her and it went back down to the ground floor. She said at one stage as she tried to fend him off she bit down on his hand.

“I started screaming for help. He took my glasses and threw them on the ground.

“I sat down against the wall crying and was completely shaking. This was the only time I really showed vulnerability. I was asking why are you doing this before that and I was trying to control the situation.”

Eventually she grabbed her glasses from the ground and fled from the building. She said this entails pressing a release button for the door and she recalled praying that the button would work. She managed to get to the safety of a nearby hotel.

During cross-examination the complainant said: “He grabbed my groin and repeatedly tried to kiss me.”

Alice Fawsett, defence senior counsel, put it to the complainant that she was exaggerating and dramatising what happened.

The accused told gardaí he was only trying to rob the woman and never tried to sexually assault her.

The trial continues today.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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