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Man who made up groping allegations about Louis Walsh admits theft

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Leonard Watters
Leonard Watters

DANCE teacher Leonard Watters, who was jailed for making false allegations that he was sexually assaulted by Louis Walsh, has admitted raiding a man's bank account after he paid him a social visit.

Father-of-two, Leonard Watters, 28, with an address at Woodview, Navan, Co. Meath pleaded guilty today to stealing a named man's wallet containing €60 and bank cards from his apartment in Kilmainham in Dublin in the early hours of November 28 in 2014.

Defence solicitor Leonard Leader said Watters, who was jailed in 2012, was also pleading guilty to theft of €290 and €300 from bank machines at O'Connell Street and Temple Bar Square in the city-centre on the same date.

Watters had earlier indicated that he would contest the case but changed his plea to guilty just before his trial at Dublin District Court was about to start.

Gda Graham O'Neill told Judge Bryan Smyth that Watters had met the injured party socially at Dame St in Dublin city-centre. They returned to the man's address and were seen on CCTV arriving at about 3am. Subsequently the accused was seen leaving at about 4.22am, Gda O'Neill said.

The following morning the victim, who is in his thirties, became aware that his wallet containing €60 and his bank cards was missing. He checked his bank account online and observed that there had been two transactions. Watters, who was identified from CCTV footage, had withdrawn a total of €590 from two ATMs within an hour of leaving the victim's home.

The man did not have to be called to give evidence and does not want to provide a victim impact statement but had come to court to watch the proceedings.

Gda O'Neill said Watters had eight prior convictions. The latest three offences were for giving false information to gardai in relation to Louis Walsh which led to him getting an 11 month sentence with five months suspended in 2012.

His remaining convictions were for breaching a barring order and motoring offences.

Mr Leader, defending, said Watters had a drink problem but “fell off the wagon” and was under the influence of alcohol when the theft happened. He said it was “on the spur of the moment” after the victim fell asleep.

He told the court that when Watters was aged nine, he suffered third degree burns over a third of his body which had a huge impact on his emotional and cognitive development.

He has been on pain killers since and also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He later began working as a barman and after that he set up a dance school.

However that business has “dried up” as a result of the publicity and press intrusion following his previous case, and he has been unable to work since.

He also gets abused when walking around his home-town, the court was told. Pleading for leniency, Mr Leader also asked the court to note his client has a good relationship with his children and is tackling a drink addiction. Dressed in a grey suit and black shirt, Watters, who remained silent during the hearing, brought €500 to court to be given the injured party.

Judge Bryan Smyth said that the defendant has had since November 2014 to come up with the full amount. He also said there was a certain degree of calculation on Watters' part; he had befriended the man and left his home after stealing from him.

He said he wanted Watters to bring to court €650, the full amount owed, and adjourned sentencing until a date in March. He said that if it is paid the court will consider a suspended sentence.

Free legal aid has been granted after the court heard Mr Watters in receipt of disability allowance.

Four years ago he was jailed after he admitted he concocted unfounded claims that former X-Factor Louis Walsh groped him in the toilets of a nightclub in Dublin city-centre in April 2011.

Described as a "Walter Mitty", he received an 11-month term with five months suspended after he pleaded guilty to making false reports to gardai.