'so embarrassed' | 

Man caught performing sex act on himself in front of Garda in M&S toilet is spared jail

Gerard McVeigh (43), who exposed himself and masturbated in front of the officer, was given a three-month suspended sentence

Gerard McVeigh© Paddy Cummins - PCPhoto.ie

Andrew PhelanIndependent.ie

A man who performed a sex act on himself in front of an undercover Garda in a department store toilet has been spared jail.

Gerard McVeigh (43), who exposed himself and masturbated in front of the officer, was given a three-month suspended sentence.

Judge Michele Finan refused to leave him without a criminal record, saying what happened was “concerning” and he had been found guilty after denying the offence.

McVeigh, from Clondalkin but of no fixed address, had pleaded not guilty to public masturbation at Marks & Spencer on Mary Street on June 16, 2021.

However, he was convicted following a trial at the non-jury court.

Today, the case was back before Judge Finan for the production of a probation report, which she read and described as “excellent.”

“The report demonstrates that he’s taken the matter exceptionally seriously, I asked for a glowing report and I got one,” she said.

Suspending the sentence for a year, the judge thanked prosecuting Garda Seamus Donoghue for the manner in which the case was dealt with.

The judge refused a defence application to spare McVeigh a criminal record.

Solicitor Paddy McGarry said his client had had a lot of hardship, lost his job and had other difficulties as a result of the case.

Judge Finan said McVeigh had denied the charge, contested the case, she found against him and the court deemed it to be a serious offence and a “very concerning matter.”

She set recognisances in the event of an appeal.

Gardaí set up a surveillance operation following reports that men had been using the toilets for public masturbation and offensive conduct.

During the trial, the court heard Garda John Timmons was in plain clothes when McVeigh entered the toilets, looked at him and went to a urinal.

McVeigh was looking over his right shoulder, his elbow moving up and down.

The garda stood beside him and saw the accused holding his erect penis for 20 seconds.

McVeigh turned to face the undercover officer twice.

When arrested, McVeigh said: “I was playing with myself. I’m so embarrassed.”

Judge Finan rejected as “not plausible” defence submissions that gardai mistook an act of urination for masturbation.

Several other men have been dealt with by the courts after pleading guilty to engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature in front of gardai at the same men’s toilets in the store on separate dates in 2021.

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