*The incident occurred in February 2023. 

A JUDGE has stated that a 45-year old Dublin man carrying out a solo sex act in view of others in the men’s changing rooms at the Inn at Dromoland hotel in Co Clare in February of last year was “an aberration of sorts”.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Alec Gabbett said that the man’s offence arose from a misinterpretation of an organised LGBT event that was taking place at the Newmarket-on-Fergus hotel on the weekend of February 12th last year.

Judge Gabbett said that the event “gave out the wrong Qs” to the man and questioned whether the court should criminalise a person in such circumstances.

Judge Gabbett made his comments after reading what he called a “good” Probation Report into the accused. He said, “I think this is an aberration of sorts and is unfortunate.”

In the case, the accused has pleaded guilty on February 12th 2023 at The Inn at Dromoland, Newmarket on Fergus to engaging in an act of masturbation in the hotel changing rooms at the Inn at Dromoland in view of other persons, contrary to section 45 of Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.

Outlining the facts, Sgt John Burke of Ennis Garda Station said, “I think maybe the defendant didn’t realise that the complainant was using the facility as a gym and thought that he was part of the party essentially”.

Sgt Burke stated that advances by the accused to another man in the changing rooms were rebuffed.

He said, “The complainant then proceeded to change clothes and as he did so, the defendant engaged in a sexual act on himself”.

The accused has no previous convictions. Solicitor for the accused, Michael French said, “This is an isolated incident and my client is not likely to come before court again”.

Judge Gabbett remarked, “I would have thought so”. Judge Gabbett said that he was open to imposing the Probation Act on the accused.

Mr French said that this would show up on Garda vetting and asked Judge Gabbett to strike out the matter.

Mr French said that it was noteworthy that the victim didn’t make a victim impact statement for the court adding that his client had €500 in court for a charity or for the victim. He said that his client has “a very strong work history”.

Mr French said his client has taken the matter “very, very seriously” and has cooperated fully with the Garda investigation.

Mr French said that the entire matter has taken a toll on his client and his mental health has suffered.

Judge Gabbett said that he was “very conscious that the whole process is in itself a punishment” and the struck out the case.

The judge said that he had a charity in mind for the €500 and the accused could hand over the €500 to the Court Discretionary Fund (CDF).

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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