A jury of eight men and four women took just over three hours to find a middle-aged man not guilty of sexually assaulting his 19-year-old daughter on Christmas Eve night.
The accused wept in the dock at Cork Circuit Criminal Court when the unanimous not guilty verdict was delivered.
He was then embraced by another adult daughter who had given evidence in the course of the trial. She testified that the complainant once told her that alleging a sex assault was “the only way to get to a man.” The complainant denied ever saying this.
Judge Helen Boyle thanked the jury and said the system could not work without them and she excused them from the possibility of future jury service for the next three years.
The complainant, who was 19 at the time, wept as she described the allegation she made in the trial. Her father, who was 50 at the time, pleaded not guilty to the single charge of sexually assaulting her on the night/early hours of December 25 2017. There is a prohibition on identifying the parties who are from County Cork.
The accused who is now 54 was asked by his barrister Mark Lynam BL during the three-day trial if he had sexually assaulted his daughter and he said, “No never. Could not do it. As a father I done everything possible to protect my children. I tried to give them everything I never had as a youngfella – en suite bedrooms, Netflix, Sky TV, I filled the fridge with everything I could.
"I love my children. I would never touch my children.”
He said at the outset of his evidence that he had a very difficult relationship with his daughter - the complainant. He said she was confrontational, rebellious, had behavioural issues in school, issues in her relationships with youngfellas, and confrontations with her siblings to the extent that they had not spoken to her for about two years before the date of the disputed incident.
He said he rowed with his daughter that night about her wanting to bring her pet dog into the house.
The complainant said that if she had left the house because of a row about her dog then she would have brought her dog with her but she said he had not done this. She insisted she had been sexually assaulted.
Prosecution barrister, Imelda Kelly, asked her what she remembered after going to bed that Christmas Eve night. “I just remember waking up and feeling someone’s fingers in me. My pants was down and my underwear was down. I turned around and saw my dad in the bed. I remember feeling someone’s fingers in me – I woke up to feel his fingers inside me – in my vagina.
“I pulled his hand out of my pants and I ran out the door, out the front of the house. I was roaring crying. I remember hiding behind the wall and it was raining. He (her father) came to the door and said, ‘I was sleeping, I was sleeping, I didn’t mean it.’ I told him to get away from me. He told me to stop making a scene.”
She said she went into the house, got her phone and handbag, put on her coat and left. She then phoned a number of friends.
She sent one text stating, ‘Dad touched me. I don’t feel safe here.’ She made a complaint to gardaí on Christmas morning.