A young farmer, on his very first visit to a “Dublin disco”, sexually assaulted a woman on the dance floor at Copper Face Jacks nightclub.
Aul Harrington, 26, approached the woman “out of nowhere” and vigorously grabbed her privates, leaving her in shock.
He had denied the charges, claiming he accidentally touched her around the waist.
Judge John Hughes adjourned the case, saying Harrington was so drunk that he ricocheted off the attack and hugged complete strangers.
Judge Hughes reminded the club of its legal responsibility not to serve drunk people.
Harrington, from Shannonharbour, Birr, Co Offaly, had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the woman at Harcourt Street Club on July 7, 2019.
The victim told Dublin District Court she went there with friends after a Westlife concert in Croke Park.
As she exited the Copper Face Jacks restrooms, “out of nowhere, a young man came right up to me,” walked past, and “forcefully grabbed my vaginal area,” she said.
She was “shocked and shocked” and told her friend what had happened.
The victim was in “frozen condition,” so her friend went to security and pointed out Harrington, who was brought over and said, “I’m so sorry.”
Outside, she heard Harrington say he “didn’t touch me in that area” but touched her “back and shoulder.”
She was so shaken that she just wanted to go home. The next day, she reported the incident to Gardaí.
Under cross-examination, the woman agreed with defense attorney Shane Geraghty that Harrington had not molested her before.
“It was a completely random incident” and a “violent grip” on her privates and “nowhere else,” she said.
A Copper Face Jacks security adviser said Harrington was also “weeping and upset” when he learned of the allegation.
Garda Shane Monaghan said Harrington initially said in the interview he didn’t remember what happened before, saying “I didn’t do that.”
As evidence, he said friends asked him to come to Dublin for the night and they stayed at the Harcourt Hotel.
“It was my first time ever in Dublin, I don’t go out much at all,” he said.
They had “quite a few” drinks in a number of pubs before heading to the club, where he “dance away”.
He had his hand out when he accidentally touched a person’s waist area, he said.
He accepted there was contact but said: “I never intended to do anything. It was just pure coincidence.”
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Mairead White, he accepted that he was seen in CCTV footage walking directly towards the victim and holding out his hand, but said he was “just dancing with his hand outstretched”.
When the complaint was filed, Harrington “cried howling” and did not flee, which “is not the mindset of a sex offender,” Mr Geraghty argued.
Ms White said the grip was not an accident but was deliberate.
Judge Hughes said the prosecution’s case was proven. Harrington had no criminal record.
In a victim statement, the woman said she no longer felt safe alone.
“I keep looking over my shoulder and wondering if something like this is going to happen to me again,” she said.
The defendant, who worked at Bord na Móna, has never made a mistake, Mr Geraghty said. He accepted that the intoxication wasn’t a defense.
It was a “sad case” and a conviction could potentially haunt him for the rest of his life. He was willing to offer compensation.
Judge Hughes said it may not have been the defendant’s first disco but it was his “first disco in Dublin”.
He found the defendant had apologized and adjourned the case for a parole report and full mitigation before closure.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/woman-was-left-in-frozen-state-after-sexual-assault-in-copper-face-jacks-nightclub-41835560.html Woman left ‘frozen’ after sexual assault at Copper Face Jacks nightclub