A man who stood up on a toilet and peered into a cubicle in a ladies public toilet, in a busy Kilkenny city pub, has been convicted of offensive conduct by Kilkenny District Court.
The man was charged with intentionally engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature, that is entering a cubicle in a female bathroom and looking over the partition wall at a female.
Gerard Cunningham, Burnchurch, Cuffesgrange, had contested the charge before Judge John Cheatle.
Evidence was heard from a young woman that she was at work in the city centre pub/ restaurant on the evening of October 20 last. At about 11.30pm she went to the ladies, went into a cubicle and closed the door. She did not undress but first opened her mobile phone. The camera screen was still open, from the last app she had used, and was facing up. In the screen of her phone she immediately saw the reflection of man looking down at her. She saw a pair of eyes above her, to her left. The man was just staring at her and held eye contact with her for several seconds.
She said there was complete silence and she was pretty shaken up. She didn’t know what was happening.
ext she exited her cubicle and banged on the door of the cubicle where the man was. First she thought there were two people in there and she asked them to come out. There was no response so she opened the main bathroom door, pretending to leave, to see if the man would come out. But then she saw that he was standing on the toilet, looking over the partition, and watching her in the bathroom mirror. He made eye contact with her again in the mirror and the young woman said she was very afraid.
After what felt like a long time the man ran out of the stall and past her. She checked the stall and it was a mess with toilet paper all over the ground.
She ran out after him and asked the two bouncers on the main door to get him. She told them the man was in the bathroom watching her. Then she went back inside and told a female staff member what happened.
CCTV from outside the bathroom door was shown in court.
One of the doormen also gave evidence. He said he knew the defendant and as he ran past him he heard him saying ‘sorry.’ The man was gone by the time the young woman told him what had happened. Later that night the doorman saw the defendant again, across the street. He approached him with a manager and they asked him what he was doing and told him not to come in again.
The garda who investigated the case interviewed Mr Cunningham who told him that night he had gone for a few drinks in a few different places in Kilkenny. He had a lot to drink. He said he must have been in this bar at the end of the night because he didn’t remember it. He told the garda: “If I said or did anything to anyone I am sorry from the bottom of my heart.”
Defending, solicitor Edward Hughes argued the wrong charge had been brought against his client. He also said there was no evidence of an act of a sexual nature.
Mr Hughes said the gardaí were saying this was a ‘Peeping Tom’ situation but his client had no recollection of the event. He said sometimes men can get it wrong and go into the female toilets and this is not an offence. Everything that occurred after Mr Cunningham was discovered could be explained by his embarrassment.
Mr Hughes also raised questions about the identification of his client.
Judge John Cheatle ruled against applications to strike out the charge. He said the state had proved their case.
Mr Hughes said his client is a farmer. He said he would call this what it is - a drunk man going into a female toilet, looking over to see where he was and rushing out in embarrassment.
Judge Cheatle convicted Mr Cunningham. He adjourned the case for a Probation Report to be prepared.
The judge also asked the Probation Officer to enquire if restorative justice was a possibility and said he would like to hear from the young woman involved again at the end of that process.
The case was adjourned to September.