herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

How Louis' fake accuser frittered €800k payout on alcohol and fast cars

THE man convicted for concocting allegations that he was sexually assaulted by Louis Walsh frittered away an €800,000 compensation award in just two years, a court was told.

Leonard Watters (24), a father-of-two from Woodview in Navan, was handed down a six-month jail term for falsely alleging the innocent X Factor judge had sexually assaulted him in a nightclub toilet.

He immediately appealed the severity of the sentence and was released from custody yesterday.

Speaking to the court on behalf of his client, Watters' solicitor Cahir O'Higgins said his client suffered horrific burns as a 13-year-old which scarred him and played havoc with his schooling.

He was awarded a sum of €800,000 in compensation when he was 18.

However, Watters spent this sum in just two years on alcohol and "fast cars", and was drinking up to "two bottles of Southern Comfort a day".

He returned to his parents' home penniless before later becoming a dance teacher, a career which has now come to an end as a result of the case.

Watters had pleaded guilty in November to making up unfounded claims that Mr Walsh sexually assaulted him in the toilets of the Krystle nightclub, in Dublin in April.



Sympathy

He had admitted making false reports to gardai at Harcourt Terrace Garda station, on June 20 last and at his home on June 28 last and appeared at Dublin District Court yesterday to face sentencing.

After reading psychological reports on Watters, Judge Dermot Dempsey said he had sympathy for him.

However, he went on to say that Watters was a public risk and had put Louis Walsh "through a lot of pain and anguish".

Judge Dempsey said he was satisfied that placing Watters under supervision was not appropriate as he imposed concurrent six-month terms.

Afterwards, Watters, who remained silent and showed no emotion during the hearing, indicated that he intended to appeal the severity of the sentence. Judge Dempsey set appeal bail in the sum of €400 of which €100 had to be lodged.

After the money was handed into court and he signed his bond, Watters was released from custody and left the courthouse pending the appeal.

Detective Inspector Michael Cryan had told Judge Dempsey that on April 9 last Watters had been socialising in Dublin and met Louis Walsh and friends in a bar in the city-centre and went on with them to Krystle nightclub on Harcourt Street.

At about 4.30am, Watters approached a garda on Harcourt Street and "alleged he had been sexually assaulted by Mr Walsh". He repeated the claims to other officers, and in a formal statement on June 20.

Four days later Det Insp Cryan interviewed Louis Walsh who denied the claims.

On June 27, Det Insp Cryan met Watters again, at his home, in Navan, where CCTV footage from the nightclub was shown to him. "It became clear from CCTV it did not support his allegations," Det Cryan said, adding that Watters then "admitted that the allegation was false".

Mr O'Higgins told the court yesterday that Watters came from a respectable family. The court also heard he had helped to run charty events.

However, he is now regarded as "a pariah in his community", and thought of "as a Walter Mitty" and a liar.

The defence said Watters has apologised publicly for the "disgusting" allegations and to this day cannot explain why he had made them.

Watters, who receives e188 from a disability payment, was described as having a "fragile mind". Alcohol also had a detrimental effect on his ability to function normally.

hnews@herald.ie

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