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03 Jul 2022

Longford retail assistant denies sexual assault of seven-year-old boy

Longford retail assistant denies sexual assault of seven-year-old boy

A former retail assistant who allegedly touched a seven year-old’s private area while his mother was attempting to pay for her shopping has pleaded not guilty before last week’s sitting of Longford District Court.

Muhammad Akrum (62) and with an address at 4 Priory Park, Ballaghadareen, Roscommon was in attendance at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court charged with sexually assaulting a seven-year-old boy at Lidl, Dublin Road, Longford on August 17 2018.

At the outset of the case and upon hearing how Mr Akrum was denying the single charge, Judge Seamus Hughes warned him he faced the “full wrath of the law” if found guilty.

Sgt Paddy McGirl said on the day of the alleged incident, the boy, now aged nine was in shopping with his mother.

He said the allegation arose when the woman was at the checkout loading her shopping, the accused allegedly asked what age the boy was and whether they were a boy or a girl.

After allegedly informing the man he was a boy, Sgt McGirl said it was the State’s case the accused allegedly put his left hand on his lower back while using his right hand to reach across and touch the boy’s private parts outside of his clothes.

In defence, solicitor Frank Gearty said the case was especially delicate.

“It’s extremely sensitive and serious,” said Mr Gearty.

“It’s actually very simple because there is a film of the entire incident.”

Mr Gearty added the CCTV taken from the alleged incident would show a “momentary, less than a second” point of contact between his client and the alleged victim.

“It was so instantaneous and fleeting,” insisted Mr Gearty, adding his client had lost his job as a result and been forced to leave Longford.

Judge Hughes, in response, asked when a formal complaint was made to the Gardaí and asked if the episode had been “totally innocent”.

Sgt McGirl said the young boy immediately complained to his mother once they had left the shop.

“It’s alleged that he (defendant) said ‘Oh your a boy’ after touching the child’s penis,” Sgt McGirl added.

This remark appeared to alter Judge Hughes’ overview of the case.

“That last comment changes the complexion of it,” he said.

“I understand elderly people can be very tactile with a very innocent mindset but it’s what follows on after that changes that.”

Asked what the State’s position on the matter was, Sgt McGirl said he was “reluctant” to set a date for hearing at such an early stage and instead applied for a later court sitting upon which the case could would be “for mention” only.

The case was adjourned until April 28, 2020.

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