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Saturday 7 December 2019

'It's going to kill him', warns Fox pal as sex assault trial put back

Veteran entertainer Sil Fox denies the charge
Veteran entertainer Sil Fox denies the charge

The trial of veteran comedian Sil Fox for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in a bar has been delayed.

The 86-year-old entertainer had his case adjourned after Dublin District Court heard it would take at least a day to hear, with eight prosecution witnesses and CCTV evidence.

Judge Paula Murphy said she did not want the trial in the non-jury court to start yesterday without being able to finish it, and instead adjourned it to arrange a new date.

A friend of the accused came forward and told the court that if the case is put back for another few months "it's going to kill him".

Sylvester Fox, of Wellington Lawn, Templeogue, has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault.

Restaurant

The offence allegedly happened at a named bar and restaurant in the south city centre last December 17.

Mr Fox, dressed in a blue suit with a white shirt and blue tie, sat in the court's front row with a number of supporters until his case was called, then stood, watching proceedings with his hands held in front of him.

His barrister, Emer Ni Chuagain, told Judge Murphy that the case was listed for hearing yesterday and would take "some time".

She had been discussing how much time would be needed with the prosecution and "we are anxious to avoid part-heard matters", she said.

State solicitor Alva O'Herlihy said there would be eight prosecution witnesses and CCTV footage.

She said the court would "note the nature of the allegations" and she also did not want it to be part-heard.

"It would have required at least a full clear day," she said.

However, a number of other cases were listed in the court for yesterday.

Ms Ni Chuagain said the accused had indicated at the very first opportunity that he would be contesting the charge, and an early hearing date had been sought.

Her client was very anxious to have the case dealt with.

"He's 86 years of age and it's had a significant impact on him over the last number of months in terms of his health," she said.

"I'm not starting it now and finishing in May or something," Judge Murphy said.

The judge said the case could be given a half-day yesterday, but Ms Ni Chuagain said the "least preferable option" would be to part-hear the evidence and adjourn it for a number of months.

A friend of Mr Fox then walked with him to the front of the court and said that if the case was put back for a number of months "it's going to kill him".

Judge Murphy remanded the accused on continuing bail to appear in court again on December 5 when the case will be mentioned to find a special hearing date.

Judge Murphy excused Mr Fox from attending, at his lawyer's request.

"He's an elderly man, there's significant strain by coming into court," Ms Ni Chuagain said.

Mr Fox was not required to address the court himself. No details of the allegations against him have yet been heard.

When Mr Fox first appeared in court last July, details of his arrest, charge and caution were submitted by certificate by Gda Sgt Gail Smith.

Restriction

Sgt Smith told the court the DPP had directed trial of the case in the district court.

A written summary of the alleged facts was handed into court.

Defence solicitor Michael French had said his client was pleading not guilty to the charge and was seeking an early hearing date.

A defence application to impose reporting restrictions was refused on the previous court date.

Originally from Dublin's Liberties, Mr Fox followed his father into the tailoring trade.

He later gave up a steady job in a hat factory to become a full-time comedian.

In recent years, he has been a regular contributor to Liveline's Funny Friday on RTE Radio 1.

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