A farmer (26) sexually assaulted a woman on the Coppers dance floor during his ‘first time’ in Dublin

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

He had denied the charge, saying he had accidentally touched her around the waist while dancing.

Adjourning the case, Judge John Hughes said Harrington was so drunk he was bouncing around and hugging complete strangers before the assault.

Judge Hughes reminded the club of their legal responsibilities not to serve intoxicated people and warned that “a license is a privilege…not an automatic right”.

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 that she went to the club with friends after a Westlife gig in Croke Park. She had a drink in the club and enjoyed the night but started not feeling “the best” and went to the bathroom, asking a friend to accompany her for “protection and safety”.

As she left the bathroom, “out of nowhere, a young man approached me”, walked past and “grabbed me hard on the vaginal area”.

She was “shaken and shocked” and told her friend what had happened. The victim was in a ‘frozen state’ so her friend ran to security and pointed out Harrington, who was brought in and said ‘I’m so sorry’.

Outside, she heard Harrington say that he “didn’t hit me in that area” but he hit her “in the back and in the shoulder”. She was so shaken up she just wanted to go home and when she did she realized ‘how bad this had to happen’ and reported it to the gardai the next day.

In cross-examination, she agreed with defense attorney Shane Geraghty that Harrington had not harassed her or tried to dance with her earlier. “It was a completely random incident,” and a “power grab” on her private parts and “nowhere else,” she said.

Her friend told the court that the victim was “visibly upset and crying”.

A security consultant at Copperface Jacks said Harrington was also “tears and upset” when told of the allegation and “apologized for everything that happened”.

Garda Shane Monaghan said Harrington in an interview first said he couldn’t remember what happened before saying “I didn’t do that”.

In evidence, Harrington said friends asked him to go up to Dublin for the night and they stayed at the Harcourt Hotel.

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

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They had “quite a few” drinks in several pubs before going to the club, where he was “dancing”. He had his hand outstretched when he accidentally touched someone around the waist, he said. He accepted there had been contact but said: ‘I never intended to do anything. It was purely accidental.

When the victim “made a scene” and the bouncer called him out, he was “roaring crying” because he was so shocked, he said.

Cross-examined by State’s Attorney Mairead White, he acknowledged that on CCTV he was seen walking directly towards the victim and extending his hand, but said he was “just dancing with my outstretched hand “.

When the complaint was filed, Harrington was “bawling and crying” and not running away, which “was not the mindset of a sexual predator”, Mr Geraghty argued.

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

Judge Hughes said the prosecution case had been proven. Harrington had no previous convictions.

In a victim impact statement, the woman told the court she wanted to “speak on behalf of so many women who have no voice”.

She no longer felt safe on her own, was now extremely reluctant to go out and would go anywhere with her boyfriend or closer friends, she said.

“I constantly look over my shoulder thinking something like this is going to happen to me again?” she says.

The defendant, who also worked at Bord na Mona, had never taken the wrong foot before, Mr Geraghty said. He acknowledged that intoxication was no defense. It was a “sad case” and a conviction could potentially follow him for the rest of his life. He was ready to offer compensation.

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

Music, alcohol and crowds might make people less inhibited, but any “tolerance there might have been” for certain behavior in such circumstances was “long gone”, he said. he declares.

He noted that the accused had apologized. The judge adjourned the case for a probation report and full mitigation before finalization.

He also said he wanted to remind the nightclub of its legal responsibilities.

Judge Hughes told the security consultant that a “quick recap” of drinks Harrignton said he drank before arriving at the club was 10 years old, with “a few more drinks” there.

The security guard said he would have been shocked if the defendant walked through the front door with that amount of drink on him as the staff were “very strict”, with “constant supervision”.

Judge Hughes told CCTV that Harrington was drunk, wandering around, bouncing on people and hugging complete strangers. “Having a license is a privilege…it’s not an automatic right,” he said.

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