Jurors discharged in case of sex assault

‘Everyone is sticking to their guns,’ says jury foreman

The jury in the trial of a woman on trial on charges of sexually assaulting her younger brother, from when he was aged nine, reached deadlock late yesterday and had to be discharged.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan had told the six men and six women a majority 10-2 or 11-1 verdict would be acceptable after a certain point yesterday afternoon. However, after a total of almost four hours of deliberation, they returned to say they were deadlocked.

“More time is not going to change anything. We have all got to our final decision and everyone is sticking to their guns. We are where we are, that is it now,” said the jury foreman.

Judge O’Callaghan thanked and discharged them. It will now be a matter for the DPP to decide on the matter of a retrial before a new jury, possibly later this year at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

The accused woman had pleaded not guilty to all ten charges of sexual assault. The parties cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Prosecution senior counsel Noel Whelan said it was easy to feel it was the most natural thing in the world for an elder sister to mind her younger brother and, perhaps, too much to think that sexual abuse would happen.

“For a nine-year-old boy to have what he does not even realise is a sexual experience happening with his sister, it has to be monstrous,” said Mr Whelan.

“It is a difficult story. It is more unpleasant than you might read in fiction. It is massive, monstrous.”

The prosecution senior counsel submitted to the jury that they could rely on the allegations being true from the way the complainant told them what happened and he said a guilty verdict was appropriate.

Vincent Heneghan, defence senior counsel, told the jury the complainant had distanced himself from his parents and his sister long before he ever made an allegation against his sister of sexual abuse.

He said when his family knew they had a grandchild/nephew whom they were not permitted by the complainant to see, they applied through the family law court for access to the child.

He said it was an application they were entitled to bring. Mr Heneghan said it was only when they brought the application that the complainant first raised his complaint.

Mr Heneghan said the defendant had been consistent from the beginning in denying utterly that she had committed any such sexual assault on her younger brother when she was in her mid-20s. The defence senior counsel said they should find her not guilty.

Judge O’Callaghan said just because the accused had chosen not to give evidence, no adverse inference should be drawn.

The accused had said to gardaí: “I wish to state nothing of a sexual nature ever happened between my brother and I.

“I did occasionally babysit. Nothing of a sexual nature ever happened.”

The complainant and his partner had a child in 2013 and he decided he did not want his family to have anything to do with the child.

He went to the gardaí and made the complaint about the alleged sexual assaults, in the 1990s. He said he did not want his sister having access to his, or any, child.

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