Drunk, and Randy, Hillbillie Farmer, Convicted of Sexually Assaulting a young Woman, pleads Ignorance? Harrington, from Offaly, is not as Stupid, as one may Think? Brave young woman?

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Young farmer sexually assaulted a woman in Copper Face Jacks on his ‘first ever’ trip to a Dublin disco

Accused (26), left woman ‘in frozen state’ but claimed he touched her accidentally

Paul Harrington, of Birr, Co Offaly, was in tears when the assault accusation was put to him. Photo: Collins Courts

Paul Harrington, of Birr, Co Offaly, was in tears when the assault accusation was put to him. Photo: Collins Courts

July 13 2022 02:30 AM

A young farmer sexually assaulted a woman on the dancefloor at Copper Face Jacks nightclub on his first ever trip to a “disco in Dublin”.

Paul Harrington (26) approached the woman “out of nowhere” and grabbed her forcefully on her private parts, leaving her in shock.

He had denied the charge, claiming he accidentally touched her around the waist.

Adjourning the case, Judge John Hughes said Harrington had been so intoxicated he was bouncing off and hugging total strangers before the assault.

Judge Hughes reminded the club of its legal responsibilities not to serve drunk people.

Harrington, of Shannonharbour, Birr, Co Offaly, had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the woman at the 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 left the toilets at Copper Face Jacks, “out of absolutely nowhere, a young man came right up to me”, walked by and “grabbed me forcefully on my vaginal area”, she said.

She was “shaken and shocked” and told her friend what had happened.

The victim was in “a frozen state”, 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 she just wanted to go home. She reported the incident to gardaí the next day.

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In cross-examination, the woman agreed with defence barrister Shane Geraghty that Harrington had not been ­pestering her earlier. 

“It was a completely random incident” and a “forceful grab” on her private parts and “nowhere else”, she said.

A security consultant at Copper Face Jacks said Harrington was also “crying and upset” when told about the allegation.

Garda Shane Monaghan said Harrington in interview initially said he did not remember what happened before, saying: “I didn’t do that.”

In evidence, he said friends asked him to come to Dublin for the night and they stayed in the Harcourt Hotel.

“It was my first time ever up in Dublin, I don’t go out much at all,” he said.

They had “quite a few” drinks in a number of pubs before going to the club, where he was “dancing away”.

He had his hand out when he accidentally touched a person around the waist area, he said.

He accepted there was contact, but said: “I never had any intention to do anything. It was just pure accidental.”

Cross-examined by state solicitor Mairead White, he accepted that in CCTV footage he was seen stepping out directly toward the victim and stretching out his hand, but said he was “just dancing with my hand out”.

When the complaint was made, Harrington was “bawling crying” and did not flee, which was “not the mindset of a sexual predator”, Mr ­Geraghty argued.

Ms White said the grab was not an accident but deliberate.

Judge Hughes said the prosecution case was proved. Harrington had no previous convictions.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she no longer feels safe by herself.

“I am constantly looking over my shoulder thinking if something like this is going to happen to me again,” she said.

The accused, who worked in Bord na Móna, had never put a foot wrong before, Mr Geraghty said. He accepted that intoxication was not a defence.

It was a “sad case”, and a conviction could potentially follow him around for the rest of his life. He was prepared to offer compensation.

Judge Hughes said it may not have been the accused’s first disco, but it was his “first disco in Dublin”.

He noted the accused apologised, and adjourned the case for a probation report and full mitigation before finalisation.

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