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Man who made up Louis Walsh groping allegation gets suspended sentence for theft

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Leonard Watters outside court today
Leonard Watters outside court today

DANCE teacher Leonard Watters, who was jailed for making false allegations that he was sexually assaulted by Louis Walsh, has received a suspended sentence for raiding a man's bank account.

Father-of-two, Leonard Watters, 28, with an address at Woodview, Navan, Co. Meath, pleaded guilty 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.

Watters, who was jailed in 2012, also pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court 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.

Today, Judge Bryan Smyth noted that Watters had brought €650 to court for the victim. He imposed a nine-month sentence but suspended it on condition that Watters keeps the peace and does not re-offend for two years.

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 Watters, who was identified from CCTV footage, had withdrawn a total of €590 from two ATMs within an hour of leaving the victim's home.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 that 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.

Defence solicitor Leonard Leader 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 hometown, 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.

Judge Bryan Smyth had said there was a certain degree of calculation on Watters' part; he had befriended the man and left his home after stealing from him.

Four years ago Watters 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.

After court today his solicitor Leonard Leader said his client had no comment to make.