A public toilet in a busy Dublin city centre department store was placed under Garda surveillance after it became a known spot for men to engage in public sex acts, a court has heard.
Gustavo Viturino, 32, appeared at Dublin District Court today to plead guilty to public masturbation at Marks & Spencer on Mary Street on June 14 last.
He was the fifth man to appear in court in recent weeks charged with the same offence at the department store on dates last month.
Viturino, a Brazilian national who has an address at Chancery Hall, Blackhall Place, in central Dublin, was remanded on bail pending sentencing in September.
The Director of Public Prosecutions had directed summary disposal of the case at district court level. Judge Bryan Smyth accepted jurisdiction.
Garda James Smith said the accused “made no reply to charge”. He told the court that he and another plain clothes member of An Garda Siochana witnessed Viturino masturbating in the toilet.
He agreed with defence solicitor Paddy McGarry that Marks & Spencer had received reports that this had been going on for a number of months. Staff tried to stop it but gardaí had to become involved, the solicitor said.
Tech firm worker Viturino, who has lived in Ireland for 10 years, had no prior criminal convictions. Mr McGarry said it had become known among a small group of the gay community as a venue to engage in sexual activities.
Viturino did not go there specifically to do this, but while there he was aware it was going on, and he tried to communicate with a male in the toilet.
Mr McGarry said such cases often have more aggravating factors, such as occurring in public locations, such as outside schools, he submitted. This case was not on the same level; it involved consenting individuals engaging in consensual sexual activities, he said.
“What about the public shopping in Marks & Spencer and they go to the bathroom, and they are confronted with this?” Judge Bryan Smyth responded.
The solicitor said it had been a frightening experience for his client. The defence submitted that a conviction could affect his employment and visa. He had brought €500 to court in the hope the case would be struck out.
Judge Smyth asked for a pre-sentence probation report to be furnished to the court.
Over the last two weeks, four other men appeared at the same court accused of lewd behaviour in the same Marks & Spencer store toilet area.
They were also ordered to obey a bail condition to stay away from the store. One of them pleaded guilty to masturbating and engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature at the same men’s toilets in the store on Mary Street, in the city centre.
He was caught in the act during an undercover garda surveillance operation in the men's room on June 16 last. The court heard he grabbed an undercover garda’s backside while exposing himself.
Dublin District Court heard something came over him after he “read the signals wrong”.
Sentencing was adjourned for a probation report to be prepared after Judge Smyth said the court needed to know why he had engaged in this behaviour.
Three other men, including a married father of three, were granted bail to appear in September to enter pleas. They are accused of masturbating in the same toilet in the presence of undercover gardaí on dates in June.