Indecent assault accused seeks to prevent prosecution

Man accused of indecently assaulting a young girl during the 1980s has brought a High Court challenge aimed at halting trial
Indecent assault accused seeks to prevent prosecution

A man accused of indecently assaulting a young girl during the 1980s has brought a High Court challenge aimed at preventing his prosecution. Picture: Billy Higgins

A man accused of indecently assaulting a young girl during the 1980s has brought a High Court challenge aimed at preventing his prosecution.

The man, who was a teenager at the time of the alleged offences, claims he should not be tried on grounds including that the matter was dealt with by the authorities in the mid-1980s.

The court heard the complainant, who was just under four years of age when the indecent assaults are alleged to have occurred, made a statement to the gardai in 2016.

She claims the assaults occurred at the accused man's home when she was being minded by his mother.

Arising out of the complaints the man was questioned, arrested and eventually charged last year with 18 counts of indecent assault. He has been sent forward for trial before the Circuit Criminal Court in 2021.

However he claims that he is at risk of not receiving a fair trial on grounds including delay, and that his constitutional right to an expeditious trial has been breached.

He also claims that there was an immediate investigation of the allegations in the 1980s and it appears that a decision was made not to prosecute him.

If the prosecution proceeds the accused will have been denied the right to be tried in the Children's Court where he would have been tried had been prosecuted when the authorities first became aware of the allegations following a complaint by the girls parents.

At the High Court Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC for the accused said this was one of the rare and exceptional cases where the High Court, as opposed to the judge presiding over the criminal trial, should intervene and halt the prosecution.

Counsel said after the complaints first come to light in 1985 the accused was required to attend counselling.

Counsel said the matter was investigated by the then relevant Health Board.

Other parties including the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit at a Dublin Hospital also became involved.

It also appeared that the Gardai were notified in respect of the sexual misconduct allegations.

Counsel said it appeared that somebody in the 1980's took a decision not to resort to a criminal prosecution, although it is not certain exactly who made that decision.

It also appeared that the matter was reviewed in the mid 1990s, and no prosecution was brought.

Following the DPP's decision last year to prosecute the accused man, his lawyers had sought disclosure of information held on file from HSE's predecessors from the 1980s.

However information including video recordings of interviews with a medical professional, which are of particular significance given the nature of the allegations with the complainant taken at the time are not not available.

Counsel said this missing material is also prejudicial to the man.

In proceedings against the DPP, the man who cannot be identified for legal reasons, seeks an order restraining his prosecution.

The case came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan who said the application for permission to bring the challenge should be made in the presence of lawyers for the DPP.

The judge made the matter returnable to a date in October.

More in this section

Lunchtime News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up