Teacher on indecent assault charges can get fair trial, judge rules

Man, in his 70s, faces more than 60 charges

High Court rules that case against retired schoolteacher can go ahead.

High Court rules that case against retired schoolteacher can go ahead.

Sat, Sep 7, 2013, 01:00

The High Court has decided that the trial of a retired schoolteacher, accused of indecently assaulting a number of his former pupils, can go ahead.

The teacher is facing more than 60 charges of indecently assaulting 11 female students at the rural primary school he taught at between 1965 and 1985. Four of the complainants are sisters. The teacher cannot be named by order of the court.

Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley yesterday dismissed the man’s bid to have his trial permanently prohibited, stating he had failed to establish he was at risk of not getting a fair trial.

The man, now in his 70s, denies all the charges against him. He was arrested and charged in late 2011 and sent forward for trial before a judge and jury in the Circuit Criminal Court in 2012.

The trial was put on hold after he brought High Court proceedings against the DPP in which he claimed the delay in prosecuting him had prejudiced his defence.

Poor health
He claimed his health had suffered and his memory of events was now poor and that witnesses who could be of assistance to him had since died.

He also alleged gardaí had failed to take adequate notes of interviews with the complainants.

Ms Justice O’Malley said it was accepted the man had health problems and was under stress due to the charges he is facing. However, this was a normal reaction to being charged with a criminal offence.

She said antiquity of the charges was not in itself sufficient to prohibit the trial. There was well-established case law that individuals could be prosecuted over old allegations.