Dad who sexually assaulted shop girl says it was “banter”
A CUSTOMER touched a sales assistant’s breast and bottom, telling her “don’t act like you don’t want it”.
John Costello (38) claimed his behaviour towards the young woman was “banter”.
The defendant, of Blackthorn Green, Sandyford, was found guilty of sexually assaulting the woman at a shop in Leopardstown in February 2015.
Judge Anne Watkin ordered a probation report and adjourned sentencing to October.
The 20-year-old victim told Dun Laoghaire District Court Costello was a regular customer in the store, coming in most Saturdays with his mother. On this occasion, he was on his own.
She said she was dusting shelves in the drapery department when he came up to her and said: “I was looking for you.” Costello said to her: “Can you bend over for me?”
Then, when he saw she was kneeling down to clean a shelf, he said: “You’re on your knees for me already.”
The woman said she laughed off Costello’s comments, as she did not want to be rude to a customer, and he walked away to the ATM, before coming back.
There was a stack of cushions on the floor beside the woman, and she said she thought Costello was leaning over to pick one of them up, but instead he grabbed her breast.
She pushed his hand away, and shouted “what are you doing?” at him.
Costello responded: “Don’t act like you don’t want it.”
The victim said she was in shock, and continued to clean the shelves, while Costello walked off.
He came back a short time later, saying “come here close I want to tell you something”, before touching her bottom.
She said she reported the assault to her manager. In cross-examination, she accepted Costello had made comments previously and she had laughed them off, but “she didn’t like it”. He had never touched her before.
Defence solicitor Michael Staines said Costello, a married man with one child, had an accident a number of years ago and suffered brain damage, as well as physical injury.
Mr Staines said the accident changed the defendant completely and has affected his judgment since.
Mr Staines said Costello, who has no previous convictions, “rightly or wrongly believes he didn’t do anything wrong”.
Ordering a probation report, the judge told Costello that what he did was “not a joke”.