A JURY of nine men and three women failed to reach a verdict in the case against a 75-year-old former scout leader for indecently assaulting a boy scout about 35 years ago.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin discharged the jury after approximately three hours of deliberation.
“We all live to fight another day. Thank you for your time,” the judge said.
The case was adjourned until October 27 for mention.
Michael Noel Sheehan, also known as Noel Sheehan of Chimneyfields, Glenville, Co Cork, denied the charge.
He told gardaí during the investigation that he thought the complainant was “a bit of a fantasist”.
The charge, which he denied at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, was one of indecently assaulting the boy scout on a weekend away in Glenville between January 7, 1986, and April 31, 1987.
The complainant is now 48 and said he was 13 at the time of the alleged indecent assault.
In his closing address to the jury, defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan said they should forget the question of why the complainant would say what he said and that it was not a matter for them to get inside his head.
“Look at the evidence. Yes, he [the complainant] was very determined. But does that mean he was right? It is one thing for him to be certain. But you have to be certain.”
Addressing the jury, Judge Ó Donnabháin said that there was a defence witness who went to the same location for about 50 weekends away as a scout and that they never slept upstairs, where the complainant alleged he slept on that particular weekend when he was allegedly indecently assaulted.
The judge asked the jury: “If you don’t have a clear picture of the sleeping arrangements, how do we get on to the assault? It is not for me, it is for you, but it is there in the mix.”
In terms of the delay of approximately 35 years since the alleged offence, the judge said: “1987 was the year Stephen Roche won the Tour de France. It is a long time ago. And I’d say Stephen Roche’s bike is fairly rusty by now. Has the State explained the 35-year delay? There certainly was not any explanation I have heard.”
The complainant testified that, on a weekend away at the derelict schoolhouse, which they were doing up for use by the scouts, they were sleeping upstairs. He named the scout to his right on the floor that night and said Mr Sheehan was sleeping to his left.
He said he woke to the sound of the zip on his sleeping bag. “I think for a split moment I thought it is the lads messing, but this never ever happened before. At that moment, Noel Sheehan is next to me. It is a hairy hand, a man’s hand comes into my sleeping bag,” the complainant testified.
He said he was fondled and masturbated by Noel Sheehan.
“That is the moment that is vivid in my life. I never forgot that moment… five to 10 minutes — it seemed a lot longer. I am frozen. I want to do something, but I can’t. I stop there frozen, paralysed. I can’t move. I can’t believe this is what is happening to me.”
Interviewed by Detective Garda David Moynihan, a note of which was put to the jury, Mr Sheehan said: “I categorically deny it. Not him nor anyone else.”
Commenting on the complainant he said: “I think he is a bit of a fantasist.”