A 38-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting his friend’s partner wept this (Wednesday) evening when the jury returned a not guilty verdict at Letterkenny Circuit Court.
The trial which opened on Tuesday heard evidence from a young mother via video link who claimed she was sexually assaulted in her Letterkenny home.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge which related to an incident on May 17, 2010.
The complainant cannot be named for legal reasons.
The accused was alleged to have gone into a bed beside the woman who was sleeping beside her partner, touched her breasts, sides, stomach and bottom and lifted her leg. All parties had been socialising all day and gone to ‘The Grill’ night club later.
The partner of the injured party gave evidence via video link yesterday. The court heard how he went drinking with the accused the following day while his partner made a complaint to gardaí. She was brought to the sexual assault unit at Letterkenny General Hospital, as is procedure.
Her partner said that he had gone to the pub to give his brother money and had stayed on with a number of people including the accused on the day following the alleged incident. He drank 7 to 8 pints that day. In his statement to gardaí he admitted to drinking with the accused. He added that he had seen the accused at weddings and sporting events following the alleged incident.
He said that his thoughts on the night before were that perhaps the accused had gone into the wrong room.
He added that his partner had “been confused” the night before.
In her summing up, Patricia McLaughlin, SC said the one place we’re entitled to feel safe is in our own bed.
“She’s entitled to the safety and sanctuary of her own home,” she said.
She added that the female witness in the case had been exceptionally “forthright” in her evidence. “Her evidence was clear and cogent,” she said. She told the jury that the young lady had become emotional while telling her story. She added that the emotion was genuine and it would take “a skilled actress” to pretend otherwise. She added that there was no reason or motive for the woman and her partner to make the story up.
“There’s nothing in the history to suggest she’d be vengeful,” she said. The court heard that not having forensic evidence wasn’t unusual in such a case. “Did the incident happen or did it not? Because if it did, it does constitute a sexual assault”.
Ms McLaughlin told the jury not to be swayed by the insensitivity of her partner’s behaviour which shouldn’t impinge on the victim.
In his summing up, defence barrister, Peter Nolan BL, said that a river of drink ran through the story.
He said that because a complainant makes a complaint doesn’t mean it’s true and to convict on the complainant’s evidence alone is dangerous. Mr Nolan told the jury that the alleged victim had gone down to the kitchen after the alleged incident and through a period of “introspection” had “filled in the gaps.” He said that perhaps she (the injured party) believes it happened.
He added that there were no bruises, no screams and the accused wasn’t shown straight out of the house following the incident. Rather, he added he was brought to the pub by her partner the following day. Mr Nolan said that her partner’s evidence was tainted and biased toward the mother of his child.