A Derry pensioner has been found guilty of common assault by tugging on men’s legs under a toilet cubicle.
Geoffrey O’Kane, wtith an address at Pump Street in the city centre, was charged with common assault with intent to commit a sexual offence on June 1st, last year.
Following a contest at the local Magistrate’s Court yesterday, O’Kane was convicted of simple common assault.
Following his conviction, the defendant was released on bail and banned from using any public toilets in the city.
Derry Magistrate’s Court heard the incident occurred in the toilets of Foyleside Shopping Centre.
One man reported to police that someone had tugged on his trousers under the toilet cubicle.
He told the officers he thought the person might have been trying to steal his wallet and ‘hoped it was nothing of a sexual nature’.
O’Kane was interviewed by police and he admitted pulling the men’s legs under the cubicle.
He also told the police he did this in the hope of ‘having some sexual activity with them’.
The pensioner added that he would go off somewhere with them if they returned the attention, rather than have sex in the toilet cubicle.
A prosecutor told the court the question for the contest was to determine whether O’Kane did what he did ‘with the intention of having sexual congress in the public lavatory’.
Defence counsel Eoghan Devlin said his client accepted it was a ‘very serious common assault’.
However, he added there was no evidence before the court to prove O’Kane’s intent was to have sexual activity in the public toilet.
The barrister told the court that it was his client who mentioned sexual activity to police during his interview, but made the case he would go somewhere else to do this.
Mr Devlin told the court the incident occurred in ‘very busy toilets, very close to the front door of the shopping centre.
It was difficult to see how the prosecution could gainsay the account given’ by O’Kane.
Convicting the pensioner of simple common assault, District Judge Barney McElholm said ‘it is difficult to say beyond reasonable doubt it was his intention to have some sort of sexual activity there and then in the public lavatory’.
The judge adjourned sentencing for a probation pre-sentence report to be compiled.
He agreed to release the 68-year-old on his own bail of £750 and banned him from using public toilets in Derry.
O’Kane will appear in court again on December 18.