Public servant sent for trial accused of sexually assaulting woman in his workplace

Stock photo.

The judge refused to lift a ban she had imposed on naming the accused and revealing his profession.

A PUBLIC servant has been sent for trial accused of falsely imprisoning and sexually assaulting a woman at his workplace.

The man (35) had a book of evidence served on him when he appeared in Dublin District Court today.

Judge Treasa Kelly sent him forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The judge refused to lift a ban she had imposed on naming the accused and revealing his profession.

Media outlets argued that their right to publish was being infringed and there was no basis for the order.

However, the judge said the defence, which had requested anonymity for the accused, was entitled to have time to make written submissions on why the order should remain.

This issue will now be dealt with when the case is listed before the circuit court next February.

The man is charged with three counts of sexual assault on a woman at his workplace in the east of the country on September 29, 2020.

He faces an allegation of false imprisonment of the woman at the same place and on the same date.

The fifth charge is for engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature at another location in the same Leinster county between August 23, 2019 and February 25 last year.

Superintendent Fergal Harrington told the court he had personally served the book of evidence on the accused.

State solicitor Domhnall Forde asked the judge to send the accused forward to the next sittings of the circuit court

Judge Kelly gave the accused the formal notice that he had 14 days to furnish the prosecution with any alibi details.

She also ordered the prosecution to furnish the defence with copies of the accused’s garda interview video.

The man stepped forward in court to be served with the book of evidence and indicated that he understood the alibi notice.

He was sent for trial to February 18, on existing bail, on condition that he has no contact with the alleged victim.

Judge Kelly had imposed a prohibition on publishing the accused’s name and occupation, following a request by his solicitor Martin Moran.

Barrister Tom Murphy, representing media organisations including Mediahuis, today asked Judge Kelly to lift the reporting restriction order, saying there was no legislative provision for it.

The court only had discretion to restrict identification where there was a real fear that the fair trial rights of the accused would be affected, he argued. Nothing had been put before the court to show the accused’s right to a fair trial would be in any peril.

The rights of the media to report on the case were unfairly infringed, Mr Murphy said.

Mr Forde, for the DPP, agreed with Mr Murphy’s submissions. Previously, he said naming the defendant would in no way identify the alleged injured party in this case. He had added that they “were not connected in any particular way”.

Mr Moran, for the defence, argued today that the issue should be dealt with by written submissions.

He cited the case of a man accused of sexual assault who went through “two to three years of absolute torture” before being acquitted and who was now suing the state.

There was a “balance of rights,” he said.

Mr Murphy said it was up to the defence to give a basis for seeking the order restricting the rights of the media to report. This had not been done and the accused’s privacy rights were not grounds, he said.

After consulting case law, the judge said she was not sure the issue was as straightforward as Mr Murphy had said.

She said it was fair to give the defence time to make submissions and they were not ready to do this today.

Mr Murphy said as the case was now going forward to the circuit court, this caused a difficulty for his clients, whose rights were being wrongly restricted. The defence had been on notice for some time, he said.

Mr Moran said it was not the defence’s role to assist the media.

Mr Forde said he shared Mr Moran’s concerns, but the DPP was eager to get the case to trial.

The judge said as she was sending the case forward, she had no more say in it and it was out of her control. She said she was being “backed into a corner because I have to send the matter forward.”

The accused was arrested and charged at Dublin’s Bridewell Garda station in October.

He replied “not at this time” when asked if he had anything to say in reply to five charges.