A man, who admitted touching a young woman on the breast at a cafe in Donegal has been given the Probation Act at Donegal Town District Court.
The 76-year-old also admitted to rubbing the young woman’s leg in the same incident, before Judge Kevin Kilrane at the district court.
76-year-old Gerald Forde, of Caltragh Heights, Sligo pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman on March 25 last year.
Inspector Denis Joyce told the court that the girl had been sitting in a takeaway waiting on her friends at 1.55 am on March 25 last year.
The defendant came towards her and put his hand on her leg rubbing it up and then put his hand on her breasts outside her clothing.
Defence solicitor Tom MacSharry said his client had been out drinking with friends and CCTV would show that the injured party had come over and sat down beside his client.
There was a bit of banter, and other people were hugging each other and the defendant admitted his action in the context of the background.
The defendant had a few drinks taken and the incident had occurred against alcohol consumed and people then went to a café at a certain time of night.
The defendant fully accepted his guilt and that there was an injured party and was sorry for any upset caused
Judge Kevin Kilrane said it was very unfortunate that the victim was not in court even though she had been repeatedly notified by gardai.
As a victim, she was entitled to be in court and have a victim impact statement read out and her presence would have been very helpful for the court.
The judge said the injured party had been sitting near the defendant, alcohol had been consumed and there was a degree of conversation and jollity and the defendant put his hand on her breast to which she did not consent.
The injured party then complained to the gardai.
The defence said the matter is at the lower end of the scale in these matters.
Judge Kilrane noted that the defendant had made an early guilty plea, had no previous convictions and was 76 years of age.
The judge said he could only conclude that the defendant did not pose any risk to others.
Judge Kilrane said he hoped the defendant had learned that this matter was not “fun and games” irrespective how much “banter” had been going on.
The judge said he had no criticism whatsoever of the injured party over what happened as she was entitled to enjoy her night and did not consent in any way to what had happened.
The defendant was badly mistaken in his interpretation of the situation.
The judge said he could only assume that the victim’s non-appearance in court may have been linked to her possible belief that by making the complaint to the gardai may have been the end of the matter.
The judge added that the victim may also have been concerned with the “formality of court proceedings”.
The judge said the defendant’s action was not in keeping with his normal behaviour.
Judge Kilrane said he was convicting the defendant but applied a section of the Probation Act that is technically a dismissal.
The judge ruled that the name of the injured party not be published.