Ten months for man who spoke to student in sexual manner while unzipping his trousers in school toilets

By Liam Heylin

A Leaving Cert student got the fright of her life on the first day of her exams when she emerged from a cubicle in the school toilets to see a man unzipping his trousers and talking to her in a sexual fashion.

Tadhg Hopkins, 40, of halting site, Nashe’s Boreen, Fairhill, Cork, was jailed for 10 months today at Cork District Court.

Detective Sergeant Kieran O’Sullivan said the victim prepared a victim impact statement for today’s sentencing hearing but she asked for this not to be read out in court.

Defence solicitor, Frank Buttimer, who represented Hopkins said: “Clearly there have been consequences for the young lady – they leap off the page.”

Judge Olann Kelleher said, “This young lady was starting her Leaving Cert. It is not what you would hope to deal with when doing a state exam and it had such consequences for her.

“She did observe him undoing his zip in front of her and she got the fright of her life.”

The charges both relate to June 6 at Scoil Mhuire on Sidney Place, Montenotte, Cork. Two charges stated that he trespassed at the school without reasonable excuse in such a manner as caused or was likely to cause fear in another person. Two other charges stated that Hopkins intentionally engaged in offensive conduct of a sexual nature.

Inspector Ronan Kennelly said that at 1.40pm on June 6 the defendant entered Scoil Mhuire girls school on Wellington Road.

“Here he spoke to two girls in an elevator in the school. The content of the conversation was sexual and suggestive in nature,” he said.

One of the girls in the elevator was starting her Junior Cert and she made a statement of complaint giving rise to one of the sexual counts but she opted not to prepare a victim impact statement.

The second count arose out of the actions of Hopkins after he left the elevator.

Insp. Kennelly said of the accused: “He went into the ladies toilet where the Leaving Cert student had opened the cubicle, to be confronted by the accused.

“She said he had his trousers open and had his hand down his trousers."

"This lady exited the toilet and the male was escorted from the school by staff.”

It was clarified that the defendant did not force or attempt to force any party to engage in any physical activity.

Det. Sgt O’Sullivan said Hopkins had 101 previous convictions – none for offences of a sexual nature. He had 13 assault convictions, including two for causing harm.

The detective said that Hopkins followed people entering a secure area of the school and that there may have been a belief that he was an examiner who was present for the Leaving Cert.

Mr Buttimer said the accused had a significant, longstanding difficulty with alcohol. He said Hopkins had alcohol taken on the occasion he visited the school but was not greatly under the influence of alcohol.

Mr Buttimer said Hopkins knew little of the school and believed it was some kind of college. The solicitor asked the judge to “take a benign view” of the defendant’s intentions on entering the school in the first place.

Mr Buttimer said the incidents were, in effect, verbal, non-contact in nature and that Hopkins was sorry for what he did.

KEYWORDS: court, Cork

 

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