02 Oct 2022

Donegal businessman cleared of sexual assault at wedding

The accused man broke down as a not guilty verdict was relayed by the foreman of the jury.

Letterkenny court house.

Letterkenny court house.

A Donegal businessman who was charged with sexual assault, has been found not guilty.

A jury of nine men and three women returned a not guilty verdict at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

The man, who cannot be named, broke down as the foreman of the jury relayed the verdict.

The trial, which was heard in camera, lasted over two days before Judge John Aylmer.

The alleged victim claimed that she had been  touched on her buttocks in a ‘prolonged way’.

The alleged incident happened when she was returning from the smoking area of a hotel. Both the complainant and the defendant were guests at a wedding.

The woman said that she didn’t see the man touching her.

“I felt it,” she told the court.

The defendant was arrested and charged after attending a Garda station voluntarily.

During two interviews with gardaí, he said he initially did not think much of the accusation against him. He became concerned when he received an email from a work colleague who stated she was resigning with immediate effect due to a recent event.

He told Gardaí he had no recollection of the alleged incident or the person he was alleged to have assaulted.

The defendant denied making contact with the woman. “I did not touch her,” he said, adding he did not know the complainant and could not explain why she made the allegation.

He said he had a lot to drink on the day but that he was not a big drinker.

The defendant said he had a ‘reasonably’ clear recollection of events but he had had “a few drinks”. He said he did not recall an alleged conversions with two witnesses in the smoking area.

The woman told her partner, her brother and a night porter at the hotel about the alleged incident.

CCTV footage was shown by detectives who investigated the alleged incident. The footage did not show the point of contact that was alleged.

Barrister for the accused, Mr Peter Nolan BL, said his client continually denied sexual assault.

Mr Nolan told the court that his client went around the woman to get past. “His hands, left and right, were out. Neither touched you at any time,” Mr Nolan said. “His position is diametrically opposed. He never touched you at all. There was no sexual assault at all.”

Extensive evidence from a number of parties, including the woman, her partner, her father and a detective in the case, was heard.

The jury, after two hours and 41 minutes of deliberations, returned a verdict of not guilty.

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