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Veteran comedian Sil Fox cleared of sexually assaulting woman at Dublin bar

He pleaded not guilty to the sexual assault in December 2018.

Image: RollingNews.ie

VETERAN COMEDIAN SIL Fox has walked free from court after he was cleared of sexually assaulting a woman in a bar in Dublin.

Sylvester “Sil” Fox, 87, pleaded not guilty to the sexual assault on 17 December, 2018 after he agreed to have a selfie photo taken with the woman.

The charge was dismissed today by Judge Paula Murphy because of inconsistencies between the complainant’s evidence and CCTV footage shown during the non-jury trial at Dublin District Court.

After the decision was delivered, Fox, who was brought to court by his son Cyril, told reporters he has been through “months of hell”.

“My health, physically and mentally, has deteriorated and I have endured countless nights with little or no sleep,” he said.

All his shows were cancelled because of the case but he is now looking forward to getting back to work, the entertainer said.

The veteran comedian, who grew up in the Liberties but has an address at Wellington Lawn, Templeogue, Dublin, gave a statement to reporters on the steps of the court after the ruling was given.

“I am delighted that I have been completely exonerated of all charges by the court today,” he said.

The State had concluded calling prosecution evidence in February. The case was also delayed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The defence did not call any witnesses.

Counsel Emer Ní Chuagain, for Fox, lodged a written preliminary application for a dismissal to be considered.

Instructed by solicitor Michael French, she argued that there was no case to answer, citing legal principles in relation to tests which apply when there are inconsistencies in evidence.

Patrons in bar

Judge Paula Murphy had re-watched the CCTV evidence before delivering her ruling today. She said the court was impressed with the complainant.

However, dismissing the case, the judge said that having given careful consideration her evidence and the objective CCTV evidence, and the law, a jury properly directed could not convict on the evidence before the court.

She said that it was common case that they were in the bar. Patrons were enjoying themselves and Fox was beckoned over to the woman’s table by her.

He participated in taking a selfie photo at her request.

A conflict of evidence in the evidence of the complainant and the CCTV shown to the court was a significant issue, the judge held.

The woman made a specific allegations that Fox had put his left on her groin and tickled her vagina for 30 seconds as the photo was taken.

In court, she had denied telling the investigating garda that it took a second or split seconds which was noted in her statement of complaint. She smiled in the photo, the judge noted.

The CCTV evidence was shown to her and she still maintained that he had sexually assaulted her. She had accepted the footage showed his hand on the table the entire time it took for the photo to be taken.

The only time his hand was not visible was for three seconds after the photo was taken, not 30 seconds.

The complainant was unable to explain this inconsistency and redacted her evidence that his cuff may have been on the edge of the table.

Quality footage

The judge said the court had the benefit of reasonably good quality CCTV footage. It also showed Fox leaving at a leisurely place, not skulking away, as the complainant had described.

In the footage, there was no indication that something untoward occurred and there was no indication the complainant was upset or distressed.

It showed her touching him in a good natured, pleasant gesture and he moved away, the judge said. The woman showed no emotion as the case was dismissed.

The trial heard that Fox had been asked for a selfie picture with the middle-aged woman who had been on a Christmas night out with friends in a bar in the city-centre’s south-side.

Fox agreed to have his picture taken.

The woman claimed that as her friend said “smile”, “Mr Fox proceeded to put his hand on to my lap, on to my groin and he tickled my vagina, and doing so he said, ‘You will always remember where this picture was taken’.”

She said she was stunned but stayed at the pub because she did not want to spoil the night for her group.

Friends at table

She saw him later that night in the pub with Barry Murphy from Apres Match. She confronted Fox and told him he was a “dirty old man”.

His reply to her sexual assault accusation, she claimed, was “You should be so lucky” and she then told him she would “put you on Facebook”.

The complainant alleged he told her “this is ridiculous, this is stupid”.

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CCTV evidence was shown to her and she agreed it took three seconds, not 30 which she had claimed, to take the photo and she smiled and her hand was going toward Fox as he leaned in.

The trial heard that her friends at the table did not see it, but saw her expression change after the photo was taken and she became more upset as the night went on and after she confronted him. It was accepted they also had a sing-song later.

One of her friends told the court she understood the complainant had said he would have touched her vagina if she had not been “carrying weight”.

In an account given to gardaí, Fox said she was a liar and trying to “ruin my name”. He denied the allegation completely and said “that is a load of crap”.

Fox told Detective Garda Shane Behan she had put her hand around him.

The detective had agreed with the defence that Fox had no prior convictions and had never been accused of an offence before.

He denied the allegation completely. He was shown the CCTV and told gardaí it showed him doing a selfie but he did not touch her vagina and “that is a load of crap”.

She had put her hand around him, he told Detective Garda Shane Behan.

Mass-going Catholic

In his own notes, Fox said he was speaking to Barry Murphy when the complainant approached with the allegation.

In his note, he asked if drink had given her false courage and “where is it in the photo?”.

He wrote that he was mass-going Catholic and as a result of health problems 11 years ago, his libido had vanished.

He accused the woman of trying to ruin his reputation with false accusations.

In the account he gave to gardaí, Fox wrote that he had never been accused of anything improper during his years in showbiz.

“I have been in hundreds of selfies, as far as I am concerned I am being shafted”.

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Tom Tuite

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