Naas Circuit Court sexual assault case jury to resume deliberation in morning

Judge cautions jury to remain dispassionate

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Naas Circuit Court sexual assault case jury to resume deliberation to resume in morning

The case was heard at Naas Circuit Court today.

The jury in the trial of a man charged with 29 counts of sexual assault against his daughter has been sent home for the night and will continue its deliberations in the morning.

The trial against the man, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the alleged victim, has been running at Naas Circuit Court since Tuesday morning last and concluded this afternoon with closing statements from barristers for both sides, and by Judge Seán Ó Donobháin.

The defendant has denied all of the charges against him. The charges allegedly relate to a period of almost two years which was more than a decade ago — although one of the charges alleges that a sexual assault occurred more recently, in 2013.

All but one of the 29 allegations relate to a period when the alleged victim was a young teenager at the time and occurred in a house in county Kildare that the family had just bought and moved into. The 2013 allegation relates to a location in Dublin. 

The alleged victim was a young teenager at the commencement of the alleged assaults. She alleged that on numerous occasions she would wake to find her father with his hand on her genitals and inserting his fingers or his tongue into her vagina.

Over the course of three days, evidence was heard from both the alleged victim, her mother, her brother, a friend, a school teacher and her father, the defendant. As well as hearing evidence of the alleged sexual assaults, they jury also heard significant evidence from the complainant and both of her parents as to the turbulent nature of the relationships in the family.

All sides agreed that the defendant, a very successful professional, was a driven man, eager to succeed in order to provide for his family, but that he travelled a lot with work and was regularly not at home. By his own admission, he was an imperfect partner and father, which he regretted a lot, he told the jury in cross examination this morning. He and the complainant’s mother had had ups and downs in their relationship, and evidence was heard of constant rows. They have now separated.

In summing up, counsel for the prosecution Paul Murray told the jury of nine women and three men that the alleged victim’s complaints had been both detailed and consistent for the past ten years and that she had maintained her stance notwithstanding suffering considerably by feeling, for a time, ostracised and isolated by other members of her family.

Counsel for the defendant, Conor Devally (SC)

On the other hand, counsel for the defence Conor Devally closely examined the allegations, both in their nature, their timing and even their narrative, and by placing them in the context of the complicated and often turbulent family dynamics at that time, he sought to undermine the credibility of the complainant.

Before sending them out to begin their deliberations, Judge Ó Donobháin told them that they would need to consider all 29 of the allegations separately. He said that if they felt there was two different understandings of any element of evidence, then the understanding most advantageous to the defendant must be adopted.

He emphasised that in a criminal case, the jury could only convict the defendant if they were certain that the prosecution had proven its case beyond all reasonable doubt, and added that it was not the responsibility of the defence to prove anything.He added that they must approach the matter dispassionately and look past moments of emotion which occurred during evidence by all sides.

The jury began its deliberations at 2.55pm this afternoon and just after 4pm the judge called them out again and when the forewoman of jury confirmed that they had not reached a unanimous verdict, he suspended their deliberations until tomorrow morning at 10.30.