MAN (75) ABUSED GIRL (8) IN HO­TEL

Man pleads guilty to sex­ual as­sault of 8-year-old girl with spe­cial needs

The Sligo Champion - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA GAL­LAGHER

A 75-year-old man pleaded guilty at Sligo District Court on Thurs­day to sex­u­ally as­sault­ing an 8-year-old girl who has spe­cial needs in a ho­tel bar in Gur­teen.

The court heard the ac­cused had been out so­cial­is­ing in a bar when he met the girl for the first time.

The court heard the ac­cused, Larry O’ Toole (75) with an ad­dress at Church Gate, Gur­teen was so­cial­is­ing in the vil­lage on Septem­ber 4 th 2016 where he met the fa­ther and his daugh­ter. They had been in an­other bar and then went to the bar in the Hill Ho­tel, where the as­sault took place. The girl then told her fa­ther what had hap­pened.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing garda Sergeant Gerry Cur­ley told the court that the as­sault was cap­tured on CCTV.

The ac­cused, who pleaded guilty, was con­victed and re­leased on bail to reap­pear in Jan­uary 2019 for sen­tenc­ing.

A grand­fa­ther pleaded guilty at Sligo District Court to sex­u­ally as­sault­ing an 8-year-old girl who has spe­cial needs in a bar in Gur­teen.

The court heard the ac­cused had been out so­cial­is­ing in a bar when he met the girl for the first time.

The mother of the girl, now aged 11, was present in court and told Judge Kevin Kilrane that the as­sault has had a pro­found im­pact on her daugh­ter, who has be­come ex­tremely ner­vous, has low self con­fi­dence and has lost all trust in men.

The court heard the ac­cused, Larry O’ Toole (75) with an ad­dress at Church Gate, Gur­teen was so­cial­is­ing in the vil­lage on Septem­ber 4 th 2016 where he met the fa­ther and his daugh­ter. They had been in an­other bar and then went to the bar in the Hill Ho­tel, where the as­sault took place.

The girl then told her fa­ther what had hap­pened.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing garda Sergeant Gerry Cur­ley of Gur­teen Garda Sta­tion told the court that ho­tel CCTV footage from the night was care­fully ex­am­ined and the as­sault was cap­tured on it.

He said that the as­sault took place be­tween 11:16 and 11:55pm.

The girl was alone in the bar at the time. He said the ac­cused could be seen touch­ing his gen­i­tals near the girl and then at­tempt­ing to grope the girl’s gen­i­tal area but she went to block him.

Sergeant Cur­ley told the judge the girl brought the al­le­ga­tions to the at­ten­tion of her fa­ther on the night af­ter what had hap­pened.

Mr Keith O’Grady BL, rep­re­sent­ing the ac­cused, said the fa­ther of the girl said he brought his daugh­ter out with him to watch a Kilkenny hurl­ing match ear­lier in the day.

Mr O’Grady added that on the man’s own ad­mis­sions a very large amount of al­co­hol was con­sumed.

There was mu­sic on in the bar and CCTV con­firmed that the girl’s fa­ther was go­ing to and from the bar area and she was left alone with the ac­cused.

He said that other pa­trons in the bar didn’t know about any­thing go­ing on and when asked by Judge Kilrane he replied that there were no in­de­pen­dent wit­nesses.

He de­scribed the qual­ity of the video as good.

The judge said it was a se­ri­ous case where a vul­ner­a­ble 8-year-old girl was ne­glected by her fa­ther who was drunk and not tak­ing proper care of her.

He put it to Mr O’Grady was it not an ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor on the part of his client.

Mr O’Grady then said that such was the sheer vol­ume of al­co­hol con­sumed by the ac­cused that he had no rec­ol­lec­tion of what had hap­pened.

When the CCTV was re­ceived, his client was brought in and ques­tioned by gar­daí.

Aris­ing from the sub­se­quent in­ter­view the ac­cused ad­mit­ted that he was the man on the footage.

He stated to gar­daí that he had is­sues with mem­ory on the night.

Judge Kilrane then said that he wanted to hear from the vic­tim’s mother who was present in court.

The judge en­quired with the woman how her daugh­ter is do­ing now.

She told him that this was the rea­son why she didn’t want her daugh­ter hav­ing to go to court to give ev­i­dence.

She ex­plained that it is only now, two and a half years later af­ter the as­sault, that her con­fi­dence was slowly com­ing back.

She de­scribed her daugh­ter as be­ing ex­tremely ner­vous around any man, apart from her fa­ther.

The judge asked the woman if her daugh­ter knew that the court case was go­ing on and she said she doesn’t as she was afraid if she told her that her mind would just go.

Judge Kilrane then said to the girl’s mother would she not think that it would bring her daugh­ter some com­fort know­ing that her at­tacker was dealt with by the courts.

The woman replied that the young girl does un­der­stand that what he did was wrong and the only way they re­fer to him is as the ‘ bad man’.

The judge then said that she is a vic­tim and each vic­tim should know how the of­fender has been pun­ished.

The girl’s mother replied that she will be telling her daugh­ter the out­come of the case ‘one hun­dred per­cent’ and the judge agreed say­ing that he thinks she should.

Mr O’Grady then told the court that he had spe­cific in­struc­tions from his client that he wished to give ev­i­dence.

The court heard that he was orig­i­nally from Dublin and moved to Gur­teen 18 years ago.

In re­sponse to Mr O’Grady, he agreed that he re­mem­bered be­ing brought to the garda sta­tion and shown the video of what he had done.

The ac­cused said that on the day of the as­sault he went out at 6pm to a lo­cal bar and met the man and his daugh­ter, he had never met the girl be­fore that day.

They left the lo­cal bar they were in and went to the ho­tel. The ac­cused said he didn’t re­mem­ber go­ing home.

Mr O’Grady asked him what did he have to say to the young girl and her par­ents and he replied that he was sorry.

Mr O’Grady then asked if he had chil­dren and grand­chil­dren and he said yes. He agreed that he had a drink prob­lem and said that was the rea­son why his wife had left him.

Mr O’Grady asked him if his fam­ily knew about what hap­pened and he said they didn’t but that they ‘prob­a­bly will’.

Judge Kilrane also asked if he has an in­ter­est in pre-pu­berty girls and the ac­cused replied: ‘no for God’s sake sure I brought my own kids up’.

The judge said that the thing that con­cerns him is that we all live in the real world and don’t have to speak about sex­u­al­ity and sex­ual drive and he said he finds it im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve that some­one as­saults a child of eight with­out hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in that re­gard. He said that ten­den­cies to­wards pae­dophilia were some­thing a per­son was born with.

He said be­ing sex­u­ally ex­cited by an 8-year-old girl says enough. He said he couldn’t ac­cept that some­one who as­saults an 8-year-old girl does not have a pae­dophilia prob­lem.

He said the ac­cused may have re­sisted them dur­ing his life but on the night of the as­sault the amount of al­co­hol he con­sumed low­ered his guard or in­hi­bi­tions.

He de­scribed him as see­ing an 8-year-old girl aban­doned by her fa­ther who was drunk and then over a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod of time over a half an hour in­ter­fered with her and sought to plea­sure him­self.

He said that a man who gets sex­ual arousal in this man­ner did have prob­lems.

“Who would do such a thing? Who would touch and be aroused by an 8-year-old girl if they do not have a prob­lem? He does have a dif­fi­culty in that re­gard and he does pose a dan­ger to young girls.

“Al­co­hol or oth­er­wise re­moved his in­hi­bi­tions and he didn’t con­trol them.

“Any­one that does that re­mains a risk and this risk must be dealt with,” the judge added.

He said that he wanted a Pro­ba­tion Re­port and con­victed O’ Toole who was re­leased on bail to reap­pear in Jan­uary 2019 for sen­tenc­ing.

Sligo court­house.

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