A serving Garda made an eleventh-hour guilty plea in a sexual assault case before Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday last. The facts of the case, which were presented to Judge Rory McCabe and a jury last week, involved the Garda getting into bed with a woman and sexually assaulting her in an apartment in Breaffy House Resort on July 26, 2015 after attending a charity event in Castlebar the day before.
The trial against the Garda, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was due to conclude with closing arguments on Tuesday morning last but his counsel, Mr Ken Fogarty advised the court that there had been ‘a development’ – his client had changed his plea from not guilty to guilty, and the judge discharged the jury.
“The implications (of a guilty plea) are significant for my client so I am making an application for a probation and welfare report,” Mr Fogarty said.
The court had heard earlier that the married Garda had apologised to the complainant through a Facebook message telling her ‘loads of beer’ and Captain Morgan rum didn’t agree with him.
The complainant told the court she had gone to bed around midnight but awoke to the feeling of fingers between her legs and two fingers in her vagina.
She then felt an erect penis ‘quite forcibly’ at her backside at which stage the light came on and she saw that the man getting out of the bed was not her husband.
Visibly upset whilst giving evidence, she said she spent the rest of the night awake, crying.
Mr Fogarty argued that the layout of the bedroom in the apartment at the Breaffy House Resort, with an en-suite toilet which had a second doorway into the common area, was very similar to the defendant’s own ‘marital’ bedroom at home.
He showed the complainant drawings of both rooms and said that in both rooms, he had to walk the same route from the toilet to get into the side of the bed that he gets into at home and got into on the night in the apartment.
The complainant said she could see the comparison and agreed, when it was asked of her, did she get some consolation from this fact.
The complainant’s husband told the court the defendant went to the toilet but after he was gone for some time, they went in to check, with the intention of videoing him, thinking he had fallen asleep on the toilet.
When they discovered he was not there, he went into the bedroom where his wife was and discovered the defendant in bed with his trousers down.
The court was told that the accused man was driving home with two other members of the group the next day when he started crying and broke down.
The witness said the defendant kept saying he did not mean to get so drunk and that he would ‘never do anything to hurt’ either the complainant or her husband.
At the behest of this witness, the defendant sent a Facebook message to both the complainant and her husband, saying ‘I deeply apologise for my behaviour’, that drinking beer and Captain Morgan rum ‘doesn’t agree with me’ and that he felt ‘embarrassed, ashamed and stupid’.
A reply written by the complainant’s husband said he was not accepting the apology and that the defendant was a married man, a family man and someone ‘whose duty is to uphold the law’.
Judge McCabe released the Garda on bail until June 13 next when he will come before the court again for sentencing.