A man who sexually assaulted a teenage girl while they were both using public transport has been jailed for three years.
The 78-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault on February 14th, 2020 at a location in Co Dublin. The man has over 200 convictions and is due to stand trial on a separate matter later this year.
He further pleaded to one count of masturbation in a public place on February 12th, 2020.
Imposing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday, Judge Martin Nolan said the sexual assault would have been a “frightening incident” for the injured party, who was then aged 16, and that this had serious consequences for her.
He noted the man has a long history of offending, including relevant convictions.
Judge Nolan imposed a sentence of three years in relation to the sexual assault count and six months for the count of masturbation in a public place.
Both sentences are to run concurrently and are to be backdated to February 19th, 2020, when the man was remanded in custody.
He said the court “does not have the power to detain people who may re-offend in future”. Judge Nolan said the court’s role is one of punishment, not preventative detention, adding that it is hoped that the man will stop committing crimes upon his release from prison.
Valentine’s Day card
The court heard that the victim, then aged 16, was using public transport when the defendant approached her. He dropped a Valentine’s Day card on the floor twice, and she picked it up and handed it to him on both occasions.
The man then sat beside the girl, which she considered to be unusual as there were other seats nearby. He started to talk to her, asking questions about her life.
She told him her age, and he told her she looked older, and he had thought she was 20. He also brushed his hand against her leg, brushing his hand from her knee towards her mid-thigh.
The injured party moved closer to the window and away from the man, who touched her leg again. The girl later told gardaí she didn’t want to be in that situation and had not given the man permission to touch her.
The defendant told the injured party that she had “really turned him on” and asked if she wanted to go for coffee when they got off. The victim refused and later told gardaí she felt very uncomfortable during this exchange.
The man then moved away, and the girl thought he had left. At the last stop, the injured party noticed the man was still on the vehicle.
They both got off, and the man then walked on the opposite side of the road to the girl, who was crying and believed he was looking for her.
While CCTV was retrieved, the assault itself was not captured. The man was arrested, but made no admissions during interview.
In her victim impact statement, the girl said the assault took place after an “innocent act of kindness” on her part. She said she fears her kindness may be taken advantage of and is more aware of her vulnerability as a woman.
The injured party said she feels anxious about using public transport and the assault had an impact on her schoolwork.
The investigating garda agreed with defence counsel that the man had dropped a card, addressed to his wife for Valentine’s Day. It was also accepted that the entire encounter between the man and the injured party lasted around eight minutes.
The garda also agreed that the man told gardaí that it could not have been him as it he was in custody.
Separately, on February 12th, 2020, three young women were using public transport, when they noticed a man, who appeared intoxicated, get on the vehicle.
The man sat beside them, even though other seats were available. He then looked at the girls, put his hands down his trousers and appeared to be masturbating. The girls moved away, but he followed them, before leaving at the same stop.
CCTV was obtained, but the incident itself was not captured. The man was not interviewed in relation to this.
Victim impact statements were handed in on behalf of the three girls, but not read to the court.
The investigating garda agreed with defence counsel that only one of the three girls saw the man with his hands in his trousers. It was also accepted that the man did not touch the girls and they had not seen him since.
It was agreed that the man’s guilty pleas were of value as neither incident was captured on CCTV.
Defence counsel said her client does not get on public transport with “nefarious intent”.
The majority of the man’s convictions are in the district court. Defence counsel said the man gets confused and cannot really remember either incident, but is apologetic. He is married with two sons.