Indecent act in library

A 65-year-old man has been convicted of indeceny after being caught “vigorously” masturbating behind schoolgirls in a public library.

A 65-year-old man has been convicted of indeceny after being caught “vigorously” masturbating behind schoolgirls in a public library.

Sean Fitzpatrick, 2 Woodlawn Villas, Portlaoise, committed the offence at Portlaoise Library, Lyster Square, Portlaoise, on January 7 this year. At last week’s court, defence for Fitzpatrick, Mr Declan Breen admitted that the only mitigation he could offer for his client was that the girls were unaware what was going on behind their backs.

The court heard from Inspector Martin Harrington that gardaí were called after receiving a report of a male acting suspiciously around teenaged girls who were studying in the library. The girls had their backs to Fitzpatrick, who was sitting extremely close to them. A staff member saw Fitzpatrick’s arm “moving vigorously”, the inspector said, and he was “suspected of masturbating”.

“When the staff member confronted him, he stood up and there was a stain on his trousers,” Insp Harrington said.

Fitzpatrick was subsequently arrested and made admissions at the garda station.

“The only thing that can be said in mitigation is that the girls were unaware it was going on,” said defence solicitor, Mr Declan Breen.

Although his client has no previous convictions, Mr Breen admitted that “this has happened before”. The court heard that Fitzpatrick has possible cerebral damage from a road traffic accident and also suffers from a learning difficulty. Mr Breen said Fitzpatrick has been referred to the psychiatric services and is currently awaiting treatment.

“He now sees it is imperative he takes up help, he has a cognitive understanding of what he’s done,” Mr Breen said.

Judge Catherine Staines said the main concern of the court is that this does not happen again.

“Teenaged girls shouldn’t have to witness this,” she said.

The judge put the matter back to October 18, for a probation and psychiatric report and she warned Fitzpatrick to follow whatever advice he is given by his doctors.