By Declan Brennan
The trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman he met on Tinder has heard that he told gardaí the woman became hysterical after he tried to kiss her.
The 36-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told investigators that he thought they were meeting to “hook up” and have sex. He denied attacking her when this didn't happen.
He has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexual assault of the foreign national on UCD campus, south Dublin on July 23, 2014.
The woman, now aged 35, has previously given evidence that after some weeks of communicating with the man on the Tinder dating programme and on Whatsapp she arranged to meet him.
The man picked her up in his car, a blue BMW, and drove her to a field on the campus. The woman testified that he then “changed completely”, becoming aggressive and sexually assaulting her.
After his arrest the man told gardaí that he took it that he believed he and the complainant were meeting on the night “to probably have sex”.
He said that his reasoning for this was that in the online text conversations he had told the woman that he was a porn star. He said he was messing and she seemed quite interested in this.
“During the banter I asked her would she like to star in a film with me and she said 'this interests me very much',” he told gardaí.
He denied he had an intention to have sex with the woman but said “the purpose of meeting her was hoping to have sex with her and to seduce her”. He said some women he met would have sex after 20 minutes.
The man said he drove her to UCD and said that summer he'd met multiple girls “off the dating site” at that location. He said he knew the campus “extremely well” from going to college there.
The accused said he drove down a lane-way and stopped the car. He said he then leaned over to her and tried to kiss her. He said she pushed him away and he moved away.
He said she then “freaked out” and became hysterical. He said she was crying and he asked her to get out because her reaction was freaking him out.
“She was there howling. She said she didn’t know where she was, she’d be lost. She begged me not to throw her out of car," he said.
He said he got nervous because he saw people down the road and there was a security van behind him.
He said he drove into a field and she was still crying and became hysterical again.
“I was like will you Jesus relax I tried to hold on to her to tell her to relax. She freaked out and jumped out. I drove off. I was like, it's like a mad man situation,” he said.
Gardaí put it to him that he freaked out and lost it with her when she refused to kiss him. He denied this and denied getting angry.
“I got nervous. I was trying to calm it down,” he said.
Gardaí put it to the accused that nobody would get that hysterical over just one kiss. The defendant said that he believed that she became hysterical because she found herself in a secluded area in a foreign country and it became obvious that he “would maybe try to have sex with her and that freaked her out”.
He said she probably felt vulnerable, adding “I never meant to frighten the poor girl”.
In a closing speech for the prosecution Paul Burns SC told the jury that the man's garda interviews were self-serving. He said the defendant had cynically tried to downplay what happened that night.
He told the jurors they might consider the complainant naïve, foolish and even stupid but that none of these gave anyone the right to attack her.
Mr Burns said that simply agreeing to meet someone did not make them fair game. He said at no stage did the woman indicate she was interested in meeting the man for sex.
Counsel said the complainant was a credible witness who had travelled halfway across the world and who had withstood prolonged and difficult cross-examination.
Judge Cormac Quinn earlier told the jury of six men and six women that evidence will end today and closing speeches will begin.