A Wicklow man has been convicted of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl on a beach four years ago after a passing jogger gave evidence that he observed the abuse taking place.
The 62-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting the girl on September 21, 2005.
A jury of nine men and three women today returned a verdict of guilty on day six of the trial.
Judge Tony Hunt thanked the jurors and remanded the man on continuing bail until his sentence date in April.
During the trial a professor who had been running on the beach that morning told the jury that he saw a girl lying face down on rocks with a man standing behind her, assaulting her..
He told Mr Paul Murray BL, prosecuting, that he first saw the girl when he was about 20 yards away and noticed that she was naked from the waist down. He said he thought “she had been taken short and was urinating”.
He noticed a man standing behind her and called out to him. He said the man acknowledged him but as he came closer to them he could see that the man was abusing the girl.
The witness told Mr Murray that there was “absolutely no doubt” about it and added that he knew he had just witnessed a “serious sexual assault on a child”.
He said after he passed them he looked over his shoulder and he could see them both standing up and looking towards him. He jogged on and knocked on the door of a house and asked for a phone to call the gardaí.
The home owner said his phone was dead so the witness borrowed a pen and paper and recorded the registrations of three vehicles parked close to the beach.
The man in the house was able to identify two of the vehicles so the professor recorded the registration of the third. He said within “two to three minutes” the man and the child arrived on the same street.
The man told the witness that he and the child had been gathering rocks and she had fallen and he had been checking on her.
The witness then told Mr Murray that the man said to him that he had not been interfering with the child.
The witness told the court he then told the man: “I know what I saw. I am taking your registration details and I will be calling the gardaí.”
The man then referred to the child by name and asked her to confirm that they had just been collecting rocks, but the witness told her that she did not have to say anything. The man then told the child to get into the car.
The witness described the man to the jury and told them that the girl was between 8 and 10 years old.
He said he ran on and later borrowed a phone off a woman walking her dog on the beach.
He called “999” and reported what he had just seen and gave the car's registration details.
He said later called the local garda station to confirm that they had received the report of the incident. He then made a statement in the garda station that morning.
The now 14-year-old complainant told Mr Murray during her evidence that she could not remember what happened on the beach. She said this was because she was trying “to get rid of what happened to me.”
The accused man told his defence counsel, Mr Hugo Hynes SC, that he was driving the girl to school when she said she wanted to collect some stones. He said he drove her to a beach and while they were there she came to him and told him that she had hurt herself. He asked her where and she pulled down her trousers.
He said he saw a red mark on her leg and she thought it was bleeding so he rubbed it.
He said the professor came along and asked if everything was ok and he said it was and so did the girl.
The accused said as they walked back to his car the professor told him he had seen what he had done. He said he took this to mean he was doing something wrong and replied he had not been interfering with the girl.
He said the professor followed him and took down the number of his car before he drove off. He said he was going to stop at a shop to get cigarettes but noted it was getting late and decided to continue to the school.
He said as he was stopped in traffic at a junction he was approached by two gardaí. He said the female gardaí asked the girl if she was ok and she replied that she was. He said he was spoken to by a male garda who asked him what had happened and was later arrested.
The accused told Mr Hynes that the professor was mistaken in his version of events.