Woman seeks to prevent trial for sexual assault in children’s home

Complaint made in 2016 about alleged assault over 40 years ago, High Court told

A woman charged with sexually assaulting a teenage resident of a foster home more than 40 years ago is seeking orders preventing her prosecution.

At the High Court on Monday, Mr Justice Séamus Noonan granted leave to the woman's lawyers to bring judicial review proceedings aimed at halting her prosecution. The judge also placed a stay on that prosecution pending the outcome of the judicial review.

The woman, now aged in her sixties, was aged about 20 at the time of the alleged offence.

She is charged with assault of a 14-year-old girl in the home, run by nuns.

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Peter Finlay SC, for the woman, sought leave for judicial review on grounds the woman was at risk of an unfair trial due to an 11-year delay between when the complaint was first made and when she was charged.

Mr Finlay said the complainant had been living in Australia and claimed, while on a visit here in 2005, she confronted his client. That was disputed.

A peculiar feature of this case was that no complaint was made to gardaí until 2016, he said.

Of two nuns who ran the home, one is deceased and the other is elderly and seriously ill, counsel said.

Another woman who made a statement as part of the investigation had done so on condition another resident of the home would not be contacted.

This meant another possible witness in the case was not available to the prosecution or defence, counsel said.

Mr Finlay said his client is under severe stress as a result of the prosecution. It was affecting her memory, her mental state was disturbed “in the extreme” and she believed she will not receive a fair trial.