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'I'll never pose for selfie with anyone again, this has been months of hell'

  • Comedian Fox 'overjoyed' at being cleared of sexual assault

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Sil Fox says he would like to work again after being acquitted yesterday of sexual assault

Sil Fox says he would like to work again after being acquitted yesterday of sexual assault

Sil Fox says he would like to work again after being acquitted yesterday of sexual assault

Veteran comedian Sil Fox has said he will avoid selfies with fans in future after being acquitted of sexual assault in a case that lasted nearly 18 months.

The 87-year-old entertainer said that in 48 hours his career was "gone" and he had been through "months of hell", but he now hoped to restore his reputation.

He was speaking after walking free from court, where a judge dismissed a sexual assault charge against him.

A woman had accused him of groping her in a pub as they had a photo taken together.

Mr Fox, with an address in Templeogue, Dublin, denied assaulting the woman in a south city centre bar on December 17, 2018.

Insufficient

Judge Paula Murphy dismissed the charge, ruling that there was insufficient evidence against him and he had no case to answer.

The judge said there were inconsistencies between the woman's evidence and CCTV footage that had been shown.

Mr Fox told the Herald the case had affected his health badly and he grew more fearful the longer it went on.

"I will avoid selfies now in the future. It was hard to believe. There weren't many cameras around when I started in showbusiness. I'm 87. It wasn't easy, believe you me, but I had great help from my son Cyril while all this was happening," he said.

"In the CCTV you can see her pulling me in three times to make sure she got a photograph."

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Sil Fox pictured previously with his friend Joe Duffy of RTE

Sil Fox pictured previously with his friend Joe Duffy of RTE

Sil Fox pictured previously with his friend Joe Duffy of RTE

Mr Fox said he was "overjoyed" at yesterday's ruling.

"I can't really believe it, after it taking a year-and-a-half of my life away," he said.

"When Cyril gave me the news that it had been dismissed, I was so happy.

"Being all my life in showbusiness, I was asked to stand in for a photograph, like I have been asked hundreds of times, and I cannot believe that this person would suggest that I had done something wrong while the photograph was being taken, and thanks be to God it has been proven that I didn't do anything."

He was also critical of the DPP for proceeding with the case, saying that the CCTV evidence was strongly in his favour.

"The CCTV showed I didn't do anything. I can't understand why the DPP put this case forward in the first place," he said.

"They saw the CCTV as well at that time, which is a long time ago, yet they proceeded with it.

"Time was against me and it took an awful toll on my health. I could hardly sleep. It ruined everything.

"My gigs were cancelled, all the charity shows I used to do, and the other shows. In 48 hours my career was gone.

"I hope I have my name back again. I'd like to thank all the people that supported me. Most people in showbusiness didn't believe it, so I was delighted I had so many friends in showbusiness that supported me."

He said he would love to get back on the entertainment circuit, but does not know if he will be able to due to his advanced years and the pandemic restrictions.

"I'd like to work again now, but being a year-and-a-half off the scene, it might be hard," he said.

"The only way to forget all this is to go back to performing. That would help me forget this episode."

Explain

He thanked his family and legal team, solicitor Michael French and barrister Emer Ni Chuagain.

The middle-aged complainant had alleged that Mr Fox assaulted her after agreeing to her request for a selfie while she was on a Christmas night out with friends.

The judge delivered her ruling after hearing legal submissions from the defence and prosecution and having re-watched the video evidence.

She said the woman had testified that Mr Fox touched her with his left hand while the photo was being taken and the alleged assault had lasted around 30 seconds.

Judge Murphy said the complainant had accepted on viewing the CCTV that Mr Fox's hand was on the table for the entire time the photo was taken.

There were only three seconds when his hand was not visible after the photo was taken, the judge said.

The woman was "unable to explain" this inconsistency.

"In the footage, there is no indication that something un- toward occurred," Judge Murphy said. "There is no indication the complainant was upset or distressed."

In addition, when the woman was seen to beckon Mr Fox over to her table for the selfie, the encounter "appears to be pleasant and convivial".

It appeared to have been friendly, and the woman app-eared to have been smiling, the judge said.

Afterwards, the footage showed the woman touching Mr Fox in a "good natured and pleasant gesture", and he was seen to leave at a "leisurely pace" and not "skulking away" as described by the complainant.

Judge Murphy said the court was impressed with the complainant's testimony, but having carefully considered it, along with the objective CCTV evidence and the law, she concluded that if it had been a jury trial "a jury properly directed could not convict on the evidence before the court".

She dismissed the charge.

The complainant did not react as the judge delivered her ruling.

Mr Fox was not present, but made a statement on the steps of the Criminal Courts of Justice a short time later.

He said he was "delighted" to have been "completely exonerated".

"I am glad that it is finally over and I have been found to be completely innocent," he said.

During the trial, the complainant had said Mr Fox was a performer popular with her parents' generation and she wanted a photo with him to show her father.

She tapped him on his side and he agreed. She gave her phone to her friend to set up the picture as Mr Fox turned and asked if they were ready.

She told him she liked a brooch of a clown he had on the lapel of his jacket, saying she remained seated as he leaned over.

Tickled

She alleged he put his right hand on the back of her chair and his left hand in front as he stood to her side.

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 in doing so he said, 'You will always remember where this picture was taken'."

She alleged that when she confronted him, he said "You should be so lucky" and told her: "This is ridiculous, this is stupid."