Victim traumatised | 

Ex RTE journalist found guilty of sex assault on sleeping woman silent on conviction

The victim said she attempted to kill herself and ended up moving back in with her parents

Mícheál Ó Leidhin now accepts the jury’s verdict

Alan Sherry

A former RTE journalist who was convicted of sexual assault said he did not want to comment on his conviction as he awaits sentencing tomorrow.

Mícheál Ó Leidhin (38), with an address on the Malahide Road, Artane, Dublin, will be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court tomorrow after a jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting a woman while she was asleep in his bed.

Ó Leidhin, who is originally from Kerry, worked as a political correspondent with RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta but the broadcaster said this week that he no longer worked with RTE.

Ó Leidhin said he didn't want to comment on his conviction when the Sunday World spoke to him in Artane this week.

"Not at the moment," he said.

The Sunday World approached him near his home as he walked holding hands with a woman.

He had denied the offence but his lawyers told a sentence hearing at the Central Criminal Court last Monday that he now accepts the verdict of the jury.

The court heard that the complainant had been drinking at a Dublin pub with a female friend when they met Ó Leidhin, who knew her friend. They then went to another pub where the victim and Ó Leidhin kissed.

He was living in a flat in south Dublin at the time and the woman and Ó Leidhin later went back to his flat together.

Ó Leidhin worked for Radio na Gaeltachta

In the flat they were kissing and Ó Leidhin engaged in consensual sexual foreplay-type activity. Ó Leidhin suggested they have penetrative sex but the woman said no but left open the possibility that they could do this the next morning, Mr Delaney told the court.

In his account to gardaí, Ó Leidhin claimed he was unable to get an erection.

The woman then fell asleep and woke later to find Ó Leidhin on top her of her and groping her breasts. She said she told him to stop and get off her. He did stop and told her "sorry I'm horny".

The court heard that she was annoyed at him and told him that she was clearly asleep.

The woman said she went back to sleep. Later that night he drove her home and over the following days she texted him, expressing annoyance at what had happened.

He met up with her and they spoke for an hour and "they agreed to differ" about what had happened, the court heard. In April 2019 the woman went to gardai and made a complaint of sexual assault.

The following July he met with gardai and said that after falling asleep together he had woken up and started to kiss the woman and got on top of her. He said he had tried to wake her up and when she did wake up, she was annoyed at what he was doing while she was still asleep.

He told gardai that he told her that they had engaged in sexual foreplay and that he had been trying to wake the woman to continue "fooling around".

The court heard Ó Leidhin has no other criminal convictions and has never come to garda attention before or since the incident.

Gardai agreed with defence counsel Bernard Condon that Ó Leidhin was fully co-operative with the investigation and has a good working history as a journalist.

Mr Condon said his client has been suspended from his position in RTÉ and will have difficulties ever working in his chosen field again.

He handed in a number of references from long standing acquaintances who described the defendant as a supportive friend and described his shame and sorrow at the events of the night.

Ó Leidhin started his journalism career as a reporter for Nuacht TG4 and later got a job with RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta where he worked as a news reader, producer and presenter before becoming political correspondent in 2013.

He also served as vice chairman of Irish speaking GAA club na Gaeil Óga based in Lucan in west Dublin.

Mr Condon said his client is remorseful and that having put his understanding of what took place to the jury he accepts the jury verdict.

Reading from her own victim impact statement, the woman said that while she wished to retain her anonymity, she did not want Ó Leidhin to remain anonymous.

Mícheál Ó Leidhin was spotted with a woman this week

She said the assault had left her traumatised and feeling lost in the world. She said she was sexually violated when she was at her most vulnerable.

She said the night of the attack was the last time she would ever go to sleep feeling safe from attack.

She said she replays she assault again and again and has felt depressed and suicidal. She said she did attempt to kill herself by overdosing and ended up moving back in with her parents outside of Dublin to cope with the trauma and stress.

She was unable to get public transport for a long time because the "touch from a stranger was unbearable".

"My whole life and sense of self have been destroyed," she said.

She said she has since found it extremely difficult to trust men and would completely freeze during any intimate sexual activity.

She said that giving evidence and being cross examined was unbelievably distressing and she felt she was going to have a heart attack.

Justice Karen O'Connor adjourned sentencing until tomorrow and remanded Ó Leidhin on continuing bail.

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