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Prominent entertainer pleads not guilty to sexual assault

Eight national news organisations have asked the court to set aside a restriction banning the publication of the celebrity’s name.

File photo
File photo
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A PROMINENT ENTERTAINER has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a young man at a venue in Dublin.

The accused, who is in his mid-twenties, cannot be named for legal reasons as a result of a gag order made by a judge in August.

A ruling will be made in November as to whether or not it will be lifted, to let the news media name the well-known entertainer.

When the case resumed at Dublin District Court today, Judge John Hughes heard the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) felt it was not necessary to prohibit identification of the accused, to prevent identification of the complainant.

Diarmuid Collins BL, for the DPP added that, “There is no direct nexus between the complainant and the accused. It is not necessary that that order remains in place”.

Eight national news media organisations made a joint application today asking the court to set aside a reporting restriction order banning the publication of the celebrity’s name.

Shane English BL, was instructed by RTÉ, Independent News and Media, the Irish Daily Star, The Irish Times, Irish Daily Mail, Irish Examiner, Irish Sun and the Sunday Times.

He submitted that the purpose of the legislation in a sexual assault case was to prohibit identification of the complainant, and “not protection of the accused”.

His clients, as a matter of law, were entitled to publish the accused’s name and he did not see how it was likely the complainant could be identified as a result, he submitted.

He argued that the order made by Judge John O’Leary on 21 August, “ought properly to be set aside”.

Defence solicitor Michael Staines said it was none of his business and his client had not sought the order for anonymity. He added, however, as an officer of the court he was concerned there was risk naming his client could identify the alleged victim.

Judge Hughes noted the positions of the media, the defence and the DPP but deferred ruling on the application. He said it was appropriate, under the Victim’s Directive, for the complainant to be consulted by investigating Garda Shane Behan.

The DPP has directed “summary disposal on a guilty plea”. A summary disposal case means it should stay at the district court level.

Staines told the court, however, that his client was pleading not guilty meaning the case will proceed to trial before a judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

However, the entertainer, who sat silently at the side of the courtroom, has not yet been sent forward for trial.

The State sought a seven-week adjournment to complete a book of evidence.

Judge Hughes noted the accused has pleaded not guilty.

He was ordered to appear again on the afternoon of 27 November next to be served with a book of evidence and to be sent forward for trial, and for Judge Hughes to deliver his ruling on the media application about naming the accused.

The case was held in camera meaning the public were excluded. Only parties connected toe the case, gardaí, lawyers, media and some relatives of the accused, were also permitted to stay.

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Tom Tuite

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