Judge rules that student’s ‘thank you’ hug was sexual assault

A student wearing traditional Pakistani dress who asked a fellow student in UCC for directions was in court yesterday over a sexual assault conviction that arose from what he claimed was a ‘thank you’ hug.

Muhammad Tabassum, aged 36, who lives in an apartment at Patrick’s Hill, Cork, is doing a PhD on biofuels in UCC.

Judge Olann Kelleher said: “I am totally satisfied with the complainant’s evidence. Unfortunately she ends up in this situation while trying to be helpful.

“I don’t accept that cultural differences caused him to think it was acceptable. In fact, I don’t believe his evidence at all. I find the facts proved.”

Sentencing was adjourned for two months for a probation report on the accused, who has a wife and two children in Pakistan.

The woman said that she was outside the Old Bar in UCC last August when Tabassum asked her for directions to the Kane building. She brought him to the front of the building.

She said he then asked her to help him find Room G28 in the Kane building. She agreed to help him but they could not find it.

She said that, as she left, he hugged her. She went to release from the hug because she felt it was too tight and lasting too long and he said to her: “Just one more minute.”

At one stage, she could feel his hand down the back of her jumper touching the back of her bra strap. She said he tried to kiss her neck, but ended up kissing her scarf.

She left the scene, and rang her friend and then reported it shortly afterwards to a college security guard.

Inspector John Deasy put it to Tabassum in cross-examination: “Your actions on that day don’t make any sense. You were trying to meet females. You are here because she had an encounter with you and after it she immediately reported it to a friend and immediately thereafter to security. Your interaction with her was not by consent, it put her in fear and made her uncomfortable. You touched her inappropriately by touching her back.”

Tabassum said: “There was nothing in my mind. If she is disturbed by me I submit my apology. It was not my intention.”


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