The seven women and five men of the jury for the case against a Cork man accused of 46 counts of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter unanimously found him not guilty on all counts today.
He had admitted getting into the child’s bed to cuddle her but never for any sexual contact.
On what was the third day of the trial the jury returned at around noon to deliver their verdicts of not guilty on all counts.
They deliberated for a period of two hours.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin was told that there was nothing further against the accused man who was told that he was free to leave.
The 17-year-old stepdaughter of the accused claimed that he had sexually assaulted her on a monthly basis from when she was eight years old.
Tom Creed defence senior counsel suggested to the complainant that many of the usual elements of sexual assault complaints, such as the exposure of the penis and touching of genitals or breasts, were absent in this case.
The complainant agreed that this was so.
The defendant did not give evidence from the witness box in the course of the trial but he told gardaí he never had any inappropriate physical contact with his stepdaughter.
He said that he did get into bed with her in the way that he often did over the years with his other young children.
However, he stressed that it was always in the nature of paternal cuddling and hugging but that there was never anything sexual in the contacts.
The teenager said that when she was a child her stepdad used to strip down to his underpants and get into bed with her.
“Some nights he was after beer. He smelled of fags. I used to let him in. I did not see what was wrong with it. As I got older I did not want him in my bed anymore. I probably started saying that to myself at aged eight or nine.
“I felt very uncomfortable with him in bed. He did always have his jocks on. I never remember him with no jocks on in my bed. He would put his hand around me.
“He rubbed me, rubbed my arm, rubbed my thigh. Some nights he would push my legs between his legs to keep me warm. I believed it when I was eight. But (later) I said, ‘Look dad, I feel very uncomfortable, can you get out.’ And he would say, ‘No, no, no.’
“There were other nights he would kiss my lips. His breath smelled disgusting at the time.
“At the age of ten – maybe I think ten, I am not too sure – he started to lie on top of me,” she said.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin thanked the jury for the consideration they had given to the case in their deliberations.