Man who groped school worker at job interview may avoid conviction
A man who groped a woman who was interviewing him for a job at a Dublin school has been told he "may very well" avoid a criminal record for sexual assault.
As the woman showed him around the school, Noel Ward (28) grabbed her bottom three times and told her she had a "fine a**e".
Judge Anthony Halpin said it was one of the "most peculiar cases" he had dealt with and ordered a Restorative Justice Programme report.
Ward pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to sexual assault at a school on June 10 last year.
He had attended for a job interview and the victim, who is in her 50s, was showing him around when he touched her inappropriately on the bottom.
The first time, she thought it was an accident; the second time, she looked at him; and the third time, he grabbed her and said "that is a fine a**e you have there".
The victim reported the incident to gardai and Ward was later arrested.
Judge Halpin said that having considered the case, he was going to refer Ward to the Restorative Justice Programme.
"If he engages fully with the programme, he might very well leave the court without a recorded conviction to his name," he said. "However, it will require his full co-operation."
He adjourned the case to a date in October.
The court was previously told that Ward - of Barry Road, Finglas West - had no previous convictions and made admissions to gardai.
He was extremely apologetic for his actions, said his barrister, John Griffin. It was totally out of character.
Mr Griffin said he had seen "dramatic negative changes" in the accused, who had not been eating because of anxiety over the case.
Ward had worked as a warehouse operative and was unemployed when he applied for a position at the school through the Tus community employment scheme.
"Even if you have a burning desire to do something, if it is against the law, you have to control yourself," said the judge.
"I find this a very strange case."
Mr Griffin accepted that it was a "totally bizarre set of circumstances".
The victim said the accused "would have been working with adults" if he had been offered the job.
She told the court that the incident had affected her greatly and an apology "doesn't really mean anything to me".
The victim did not address the court during the latest proceedings.