By Gordon Deegan
A judge today accused a pensioner of using his hard of hearing condition to avoid sentencing for sexually assaulting a man in his 80s on a bus.
The sex assault on a Bus Éireann west Clare service last June was videoed by a third party on his smartphone. At Kilrush District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan expressed his frustration that the 70-year-old accused is using his hearing difficulties to not engage with the Probation Service, resulting in the delay in sentencing.
In the case, Judge Durcan last month acceded to a defence application to have a probation report carried out in the case on the accused and adjourned the case into today.
During the course of the assault on June 9 last, a passenger sitting across the aisle from the two men on the west Clare Bus Eireann service to Ennis filmed the assault on his smartphone.
In court today, Judge Durcan hit out at the accused’s failure due to his hearing difficulties to engage with the Probation Services for the purposes of drawing up a probation report.
Judge Durcan said: “This is an not an excuse. If someone is deaf, blind or dumb there are still methods of communication. This man is simply trying to avoid dealing with the sentencing.”
Addressing the man’s solicitor, Patrick Moylan, Judge Durcan said that the man’s guilty plea “didn’t emerge out of thin air, it emerged out of lengthy consultation and he was able to consult with you or your colleagues”.
Mr Moylan said that his client “can’t hear a thing” and he had to write words on a pad yesterday for his client in court to inform him of what the judge was saying.
Judge Durcan said: “This is a serious case of the two men travelling on the bus. Both are elderly and one man puts his hand down in a rather forceful and encompassing way on the private parts of the other man.”
Mr Moylan said that his client “is a 70-year-old man and has never been in trouble before anytime in his life. It is the embarrassment of this and I know there is embarrassment of the victim here as well judge - there is absolutely an appreciation of that. But in his 70 years, he has never been in difficulty - he is now in difficulty.”
Insp Tom Kennedy yesterday handed in a victim impact statement into court and in response to the first line of the statement - which wasn’t disclosed to court - Judge Durcan said that he would deal with the case as sensitively as he can.
Judge Durcan said that he would adjourn the case to June 19 and ordered that the accused speak to the Probation Officer before leaving court.
Previously, Insp Paul Slattery told the court that the video footage on the bus shows the accused starting to grope the other male alongside him and “forcibly grab the older man’s genital area” outside the trousers.
The victim in the case got on the Kilkee to Ennis service and he was joined by the accused on the bus when it made its stop to pick up passengers at Kilrush.
Insp Kennedy also told the court previously that the accused leaves his hand on the victim’s genitals outside his trousers “in a provocative manner in the context of the inappropriateness of his actions”.
Inspector Kennedy said that this continues for around six to eight miles to an area called Tullycrine.
Garda Eoin Daly told the court that the incident was filmed by a passenger sitting across from the two men on the bus.
In the case, the accused has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his victim at an unknown location between Kilrush and Lissycasey on the N68 route linking Kilrush to Ennis last June.
The alleged sex assault offence contrary to Section 2 of the Criminal Law Rape Amendment Act is alleged to have taken place at around 5.15pm on June 9 last.
A condition of bail is that the accused - who cannot be identified by court order - is to have no contact with the injured party.