Laois youth not guilty of sexual assault

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A Laois youth has been found not guilty of sexual assault, by direction of the trial judge at Portlaoise Circuit Court.

The 15-year-old male, who cannot be named, pleaded not guilty to one count of false imprisonment, and one count of sexual assault. He was 13 at the time of the alleged incident, and the alleged injured party was a girl of 14.

State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly outlined the State’s case.

On the afternoon of September 28, 2014, a young girl and a group of friends were hanging out at a public area in Laois, when they were approached by a group of young males.

There was a little bit of interaction, before one of the girls had her pencil case taken by one of the boys, which led to some irritation.

The girls then left and went to a shop, where the shopkeeper sent them on their way. The group of boys caught up with them, but a car came and removed some of the girls.

The injured party then went to a green area, where she was allegedly pursued by the accused. She was allegedly manhandled to the ground and held for a number of minutes, while the accused allegedly groped her in the vaginal and breasts area.

Following this outline by Mr Fennelly, defence for the accused made a number of legal submissions to Judge Keenan Johnson in the absence of the jury.

After listening to the submissions, Judge Johnson directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty in the case.

He informed the jury that certain pieces of evidence were not collected by the State at the time of the investigation, in particular CCTV footage and photographs which had been used for identification, as well as certain documentation.

He said that this absence of evidence could not leave the jury any option but to acquit the accused, as a miscarriage of justice could arise.