Serving Garda pleads guilty to sex assault

Victim says attacker molested her while she was in Mayo hotel bed


A serving member of the Garda is to be sentenced for sexual assault in June after dramatically changing his plea to guilty at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court.

The man, who cannot be named, changed his plea as the jury was about to hear closing submissions from the prosecution and defence.

He had previously denied sexually assaulting a woman after getting into her bed in a hotel room in Castlebar.

On Tuesday morning, Judge Rory MacCabe was told by Ken Fogarty, defence counsel, that there had been a development and the accused could be re-arraigned.

When the single count of sexual assault contrary to Section 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1990 was put again to the accused, he replied “guilty”.

Judge MacCabe, who said the accused had “taken responsibility for his crime” then discharged the jury panel - eight men and four woman- thanking them for their service in what, he said, “had not been an easy trial”

Following the change of plea and the discharge of the jury Mr Fogarty told Judge MacCabe the change of plea had “significant implications” for his client. The accused was remanded to June 13th for sentencing.

Judge MacCabe, who ordered a probation and welfare report, was told by Mr Fogarty there will be testimonials at the sentencing hearing. A victim impact statement will also be available.

Last week evidence was heard that the accused is known to the complainant and travelled with her, as part of an eight-strong group, to a charity event in a west of Ireland town in July 2015.

The group then stayed overnight in an apartment that forms part of the Breaffy House hotel complex outside Castlebar.

The victim told the court the group had had enjoyed drinks and played card games as the evening wore on. She said that she had put on her pyjamas and retired to the double bed she was later to share with her husband. The female gave evidence she was awakened from sleep by a man who was molesting her.

Her attacker had put fingers in her and she could feel his penis on her bottom. The victim then explained that as a bedside locker light was switched on by her husband her attacker (whom she named in court) got out of bed with his trousers down. She gave evidence she was highly distressed afterwards and was comforted by her husband.

The court heard that on the following day the victim and her husband got a Facebook message from the accused in which he apologised both of them for what had happened.

In the message, the accused claimed not to remember much about what had happened. He added: “Unfortunately, loads of beer and Captain Morgan’s (rum) do not fit well with me.” The message continued: “I can only guess that in my drunken stupor I went to the wrong bed.”

The apology was rejected by the couple.The victim’s husband wrote an angry response informing the accused he had attempted non-consensual sex with his wife. The husband also reminded the accused he was a married man with a family whose duty it is to uphold the law.