An Armagh man who sexually assaulted a bed bound woman, whom he described as a “nice woman”, in her own home must wait until next month to learn his fate.
The 51-year-old, who we have not named to protect the identity of the injured party, contested the offence, claiming that he had not been at the woman’s home on the night in question.
The defendant appeared charged with sexual assault at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.
Prosecution called on the evidence of the injured party, who appeared via videolink from her own home as she is bed bound.
She recalled that on January 17, of this year, at around 9pm, she had been at home in bed when the defendant opened the door and announced himself.
When asked by the prosecution how she knew the defendant, the injured party said: “I knew both of his parents, I suppose that’s how I got to know [him].”
Describing the defendant as a “chronic alcoholic”, the victim stated that she believed him to be under the influence at that time and she asked him to leave.
The injured party said that the defendant then proceeded to sit in a chair in her bedroom, before producing a bottle of wine from his inside pocket.
She recalled that he had informed her that he had just come from the wake of a friend who had passed away.
Despite her once more telling the defendant to leave her home, he refused, with her telling the court he had said he was “there for the night”.
The injured party recounted that the defendant then began to feel around under the covers of her bed, near where she kept incontinence pads out of view.
Upon the defendant then telling her that he wanted to “get in there with her”, the woman commented that she had felt “very, very frightened”.
The defendant is then said to have grabbed the female’s left breast, with the injured party telling court: “It was horrible, really, really bad.”
The woman pushed the defendant away from her and went to grab her phone but this was snatched back off her.
She claimed that the man made a comment about his “c**k”, before proceeding to put both of his hands under her quilt.
The injured party stated that the defendant had touched her legs, which caused her to scream and cry as her legs are “super sensitive”.
She went on to outlined how the 51-year-old then grabbed her right breast, with him once more making a reference to his “c**k”.
After the defendant knocked over her beside table, the injured party grabbed her phone and pulled her quilt over her head before pretending to make a phone call to her brother outlining the incident.
The defendant then asked her where her brother lived. When she informed him that he lived across the road the defendant is said to have “bolted”.
Defence barrister John McCann stated that the statement to police was not made until February 20, some five weeks after the incident and commented that this could have made the injured party’s recollection “not as clear”.
However, the victim replied: “I could recall everything. I just did not want to go through the courts. I can recall it now as if it happened yesterday.”
Mr McCann also put it to the injured party that in the statement she had made the comment “I believe”.
She stated: “I am 100% sure of what was said and what took place.”
The barrister also made observations with regards to the lighting in the room at the time of the incident and the medication taken by the injured party.
He stated: “I simply put it to you that it wasn’t him, you got it wrong. I put it to you that [the defendant] was not at your home.”
The injured party replied: “Of course he was in my home.”
When probed about her relationship with the defendant by Mr McCann, the victim stated: “It was so-so. I didn’t really trust him because he is an alcoholic.”
The defendant then appeared in the court to give evidence. He claimed to have been at a wake in Armagh until around midnight on the day in question and refuted the claim he had been at the injured party’s home.
When asked about the allegation by his defence barrister, the defendant stated: “I can’t understand what’s going on. I just can’t take it in.”
Describing his relationship with the injured party, he said: “We had a good friendship, even though there was the age difference. She was just a nice woman.”
Cross-examining the defendant, prosecution stated: “This lady was a friend, you describe having a good friendship, you must be horrified coming before the court today with the allegations against you.”
When asked if he had been drinking on the day in question, the accused admitted to having “a couple of beers at the wake”.
Prosecution commented: “Perhaps you drank too much. I would suggest that you did drink too much. You told police that you had not been drinking on that day. Why would you tell lies to the police?”
The defendant replied that he did not think “having a few beers” constituted as drinking, adding that he had consumed one can and a sip from a second.
Prosecution also questioned the defendant on how the injured party, who by his own admission he had not seen in eight months, had known he had attended a wake that day.
He answered: “I can’t understand it, half of the town was there.”
The prosecutor stated: “It may be the case that you drank so much that you can’t remember or that you have told lies. Why, out of the blue, would this nice lady who you were friends with just make that up?”
District Judge Greg McCourt commented that this was a case based on “credibility”.
He said: “We have to decide if this lady is making this up.
“She describes how [the defendant] was drunk whilst she was totally sober in her bed. I am absolutely convinced by the injured party’s evidence that he came in and sexually assaulted her.”
The Armagh man was convicted of the offence of sexual assault and the case was adjourned until December 8 for the preparation of a report prior to sentencing.