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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
# Courts
Man convicted of lewd act in M&S public toilet
Gardaí had set up a surveillance operation following reports that men had been using the toilets for public masturbation.

A MAN HAS been convicted of exposing himself and masturbating in front of an undercover Garda in a major Dublin city-centre department store’s public toilet.

Gerard McVeigh, 43, from Clondalkin but of no fixed address in Dublin 22, had pleaded not guilty to an offence contrary to the Sexual Offences Act for public masturbation at Marks & Spencer on Mary Street on 16 June 2021.

However, he was found guilty following a hearing before Judge Michele Finan at Dublin District Court.

The judge heard he lost his customer service job with Dunnes Stores due to the case.

Judge Finan adjourned sentencing McVeigh, who claimed he was urinating at the time of the incident, pending the preparation of a probation report.

In addition, she warned him to obey a bail condition to remain out of the M&S toilets.

The case followed an operation by Gardai, who had set up a surveillance operation following reports that men had been using the toilets for public masturbation and offensive conduct.

Garda John Timmons told the contested hearing that he was in plain clothes at the time. He said McVeigh entered, looked at him and went to a urinal.

Garda Timmons saw the accused looking over his right shoulder and his elbow was moving up and down.

The Garda said he stood beside him and saw the accused holding his erect penis with its foreskin pulled back for 20 seconds.

The court heard McVeigh turned to face the undercover officer twice.

A second plainclothes officer witnessed the incident.

Garda Timmons said he identified himself, and McVeigh told him he was “so embarrassed”.

Garda Timmons waited for him to calm down and cautioned him before arrest.

He said McVeigh replied: “I was playing with myself. I’m so embarrassed.”

Garda Timmons agreed with defence barrister Simon Donagh that he made an entry about that remark in his notebook, but McVeigh was not given an opportunity to sign it.

The Garda told State solicitor Tom Conlon that there had been other incidents in the toilets which became the subject of an investigation.

Garda James Smith told the court he witnessed the incident and heard McVeigh’s comment.

Under cross-examination, they did not accept that the accused was urinating or “shaking off” or that they misinterpreted it because they were looking for evidence of a sexual offence.

Garda Seamus Donoghue told the court he went into the toilet afterwards and McVeigh was “physically shaking”. He said he also heard McVeigh’s comment.

The judge did not accept defence submissions that Gardaí mistook an act of urination for masturbation.

She said that was not plausible and convicted McVeigh. The case resumes in February.

Previously six other men pleaded guilty to engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature in front of Gardaí at the same men’s toilets in the store on separate dates last year.

They were fined in separate proceedings in the district court.