Donegal sexual assault trial: Day 4

NOTE: CONTENT MAY OFFEND

A friend of three girls who claim they were sexually assaulted by a Donegal man while on sleepovers has said the allegations came to light when one of the girls became distressed after seeing a photo of the accused.

The teenage witness told the Central Criminal Court jury that after the first girl disclosed the alleged abuse two other friends of hers also claimed to have been abused by the man in a similar fashion.

The 44-year-old Donegal man, who can not be named for legal reasons, pleaded not (NOT) guilty to three counts of sexually assaulting three then 13-year-old girls on separate dates between February 2006 and January 2007.

The witness told Mr John O’Kelly SC, prosecuting, that she was at a friend’s house with two of the complainants looking at photographs when one of them “looked like she was ready to cry.”

She said the girl claimed she had been in bed in the accused man’s house with his daughter when the accused came in and she woke up and found her hand was wet. She said she asked her not to tell anyone.

She said they went to another friend’s house and told her what had been disclosed. This girl then said “something about him doing stuff to her.” She said a third girl who was with them said the accused had “flashed” her in his kitchen while she was staying over at his house.

The girl told Mr O’Kelly that she and three complainants then went to her house and her elder sister came into her bedroom and found the girls crying. Her sister asked what had happened and when she learned of the disclosures she told them they had to tell their mothers.

The witness said she had been in the accused man’s house and nothing had happened to her. She said she had never slept over.

The girl accepted a suggestion by defence counsel, Mr Peter Finlay SC (with Mr Peter Nolan BL), during cross examination, that her garda statement said the first girl to make the allegations had said she woke up and “knew someone was in the room” but there was no reference to the accused.

She agreed that at the end of the meeting between her and her three friends, the three girls were all “saying things.”

The girl’s older sister told Mr O’Kelly she had entered the bedroom and found the three girls crying. She said there was no reply when she asked what was wrong so she asked her sister.

She said she spoke to her sister outside the room and she told her the accused had “done stuff” to the girls. She said she went back inside and asked the girls a number of times again what was wrong.

She said eventually one of the girls told her the accused man had exposed himself to her in his kitchen and asked her to put her hand on it. She said a second girl told she had been in bed with the accused man’s daughter when he came in and put her hand on “his bits.”

She said that they had to tell their parents and if they did not she would tell them.

Garda Fiona O’Connell told Mr O’Kelly that she had been present when the accused man was first interviewed on August 15, 2008 and that he told garda the allegations were “all lies.”

He said: “It never happened, I never went into the room. Sure if that was the case it could have been my own daughter I was touching.”

He said he was not surprised by some of the allegation and said the girls “run around together.”

He denied giving any of the girls alcohol but accepted he had given one of them a packet of cigarettes.

Asked if he knew what effects the alleged abuse had on the girls he replied: “Its causing me serious problems at the moment. How am I going to prove it.”

Gda O’Connell agreed with Mr Nolan that the accused had made no admissions during interview, that he was fully co-operative and answered all questions.

During a second interview garda asked the accused if he lived “in a fantasy world” and was “a natural liar”, he responded by asking gardai if they were calling him a liar. When garda confirmed they were he replied “That’s ok.”

He denied that one of the girls had ever stayed over in his house to baby-sit his daughter. He said her sister or another person had always brought her home.

He told garda: “It‘s my word against theirs in court and I have nothing to hide.”

Asked if he had ever assaulted his daughter he relied: “No, I never did. I would never left my hand to my wain.”

During a third interview he denied having a sexual problem with 14 or 15 year old girls.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of six men and six women.