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Saturday 18 November 2017

Ex-Voice star spared conviction over dancefloor grope

Alan Fitzsimons
Alan Fitzsimons

A former boy band member and semi-finalist on The Voice Of Ireland has been spared a criminal record for sexually assaulting a colleague on a night out.

Alan Fitzsimons (41), who groped the man on the dancefloor during a company launch party, had the charge struck out after he paid €2,000 to charity.

As well as handing over the money to the Rape Crisis Centre, a court heard Fitzsimons had "cooperated fully" with the Probation Service.

The defendant, of Holywell Meadows, Feltrim Road, Swords, was a product manager at Eir, formerly Eircom, when he carried out the assault at the firm's rebranding event.

Fitzsimons had been a semi-finalist on RTE's The Voice Of Ireland in 2012 and was also a member of chart-topping Irish boyband OTT, who had three top 10 singles in the 1990s.

Dance

The case was heard last year and Judge Bryan Smyth had given Fitzsimons time to make the charity donation after hearing that his past music career "wasn't that successful".

At Dublin District Court yesterday, Judge Smyth said he had read the probation report and remarked that the accused "seems to have cooperated fully in all respects".

The money had been paid, said Pat McGonagle, his defence solicitor. "Thank you, your honour," Fitzsimons said.

The assault happened in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on September 16, 2015, Garda Kevin Lawless said previoulsy.

There was a free bar at the event, attended by some 200 Eir staff.

The defendant took the victim's arm, in an invitation to dance, and he then groped the victim's genitals and leaned in for a kiss, which the victim avoided, Gda Lawless said. The defendant and the victim were unknown to each other but had mutual friends and colleagues, the court heard.

Stupid

Fitzsimons said he had "no clear memory of the incident due to alcohol" so was unable to challenge the victim's version of events.

The defendant "cupped his [the victim's] nuts", a witness stated, while another described the assault as occurring "within a split second" and said she believed Fitzsimons possessed "no malice aforethought".

The accused offered the victim both spoken and written apologies.

He described the assault as "stupid", saying he had always been respected in his professional and personal networks. He added he had been through a difficult time since the incident.

Fitzsimons, who had no previous convictions, was immediately suspended by Eir and later fired.

During a victim impact statement, the court was told the man "was not on alert" and believed himself "to be in a safe environment" on the night.

He had suffered anxiety, headaches and disturbed sleep since the incident.

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