A TULLOW man who masturbated near a crèche by a statute of the Virgin Mary was given a four-month sentence at Carlow District Court last week. Judge Geraldine Carthy said she had no alternative but to impose a sentence the 69-year-old as he had shown “absolutely no remorse” for the act at the church car park in Tullow on 4 September last.
Three eyewitnesses, two of them childcare workers, had given evidence that they saw the man with his hand down his trousers, moving the hand at 6pm as the childcare workers locked up at the Forward Steps Family Resource Centre. The court was told that after he had finished the act, the man had knelt down by the statute of the Virgin Mary at a grotto in the car park and had blessed himself.
The defendant had pleaded not guilty to engaging in the act of masturbation in a public place and his defence argued that the witnesses could not know for certain what they had seen. However, the witnesses all said they had “no doubt” or were “certain” that the defendant was masturbating.
After finding the defendant guilty, Judge Carthy said she had no option but to impose a custodial sentence. “Unfortunately, the accused has shown absolutely no remorse in respect of the act in question,” she said. “It took place quite near the vicinity of a crèche, where children are coming and going, and, unfortunately, where the witnesses witnessed the act.”
In mitigation, defending barrister Maurice Bardon said: “He is on disability for a number of years … He is under examinations for onset dementia and other conditions.”
Mr Bardon said there were concerns about children, but the crèche was shielded from the car park and there were no children in the area.
Judge Carthy imposed a four-month sentence. Recognisances were fixed in the event of an appeal, which was subsequently lodged. An application to extend legal aid to cover counsel was rejected.
The defendant was also ordered by Judge Carthy not to go into the car park and not have any contact with the witnesses while the matter was on appeal.
Prosecuting Garda John O’Connor later sought an extra condition that the defendant must be accompanied by a member of his family while in public. The garda said there had been a number of breaches of the defendant’s previous bail conditions, including a breach just 24 hours beforehand. Garda O’Connor said he was “concerned” about the defendant’s behaviour and that he had a duty to the people of Tullow.
Judge Carthy consented to the extra condition.
Full report of the court hearing in this week’s Nationalist