A 40-year-old man charged with three counts of sexual assault has been found not guilty on two counts, with the jury unable to reach a verdict on the third charge.
At Portlaoise Circuit Court, the accused was charged with three counts of sexual assault, at locations in Laois and Kildare, on a date between January 1 and May 31, 2008; December 21, 2010; and a date in November, 2013.
The alleged injured party told the court that the accused married her mother in 2007. In May 2008, when the witness was around nine years of age, her mother went on a hen party leaving the girl and her brother with the accused.
The witness said that she and her brother went to sleep in the same bed, but she woke to find that she and her brother had been lifted into her mother’s bed. She said her underclothes were pulled down and the accused was touching her vagina. She said she thought he had his trousers down and could feel his erection.
The witness gave further evidence that in Christmas of 2010, when she was in sixth class at school, she and her family stayed in her grandmother’s house.
She said she was in the sitting room with the accused, who was “messing” with her.
The witness gave evidence that the accused pulled her down on top of him on the couch, with her back to his front. She said she was held down and could remember the accused grinding into her back.
“I could feel his erection at the back of me,” she said.
In 2011, the accused and the witness’ mother split up. In November, 2013, the witness stayed in the accused’s girlfriend’s house.
She said she was lying on the couch with a blanket over her when the accused came in and lay behind her.
“He started putting his hands up my top and then under my bra,” she said. “He kept putting his hands up my top and grabbing my boobs.”
She said this incident ended when she got up and walked away.
She told the court that two weeks later the accused sent her text messages to apologise for what he had done.
In response to cross-examination by defence for the accused, Mr Ciaran O’Loughlin SC, the witness said she did not know how she and her brother ended up in her mother’s bed in the first incident.
In response to Mr O’Loughlin’s assertion that, at the age of nine, she would not have known what an erection was, the witness said that she felt something hard in her back.
In relation to the alleged incident of November 13, the witness confirmed that her brother and the accused’s girlfriend were both in the room at the time.
The accused was found not guilty on counts two and three on the indictment; on count one, the jury could not reach an agreement and the matter has gone back to the DPP.