A man who tried to force a kiss on a female colleague and made a number of inappropriate comments to her, was told in court this week (March 14 ) he had until the end of the month to come up with €3,000 in compensation for his victim or face a month in prison.
Christy Keyes (54 ), a handyman from Killina, Rahan, Tullamore, Co Offaly pleaded not guilty to the assault charge, and forced Ms Regina Minnock, a mother of three from Ballycumber, Co Offaly, to give evidence.
Ms Minnock told the court how she had gone to work in the community centre in the old barracks in Ballycumber on May 19 and had been asked by her supervisor to clean a recently refurbished kitchen where the defendant was also working that morning.
After some small talk in relation to their respective duties: “He started passing comment on me... and why couldn’t I wear a mini-skirt,” said Ms Minnock.
“He left to boil water, and when he returned he said he wanted to show me something, and it was a picture of a topless woman. It was not his first time to do this,” she said.
“He said to me would you strip like the girl in the picture... then he pulled me to him and tried to force his mouth onto mine. I resisted, and told him I did not go with married men,” said Ms Minnock who then went to report the incident to her supervisor Mary Kelly who began an investigation.
In his evidence, Keyes claimed Ms Minnock had lifted her top at him, but admitted he never mentioned this to his supervisor when he met him that afternoon.
“Why not?” demanded Judge Seamus Hughes.
“Dunno,” shrugged Keyes.
“Does this happen every day?” asked the judge .
“No,” admitted Keyes, who went on to say that the first time he mentioned this was the following Saturday after he was made aware of Ms Minnock’s official complaint.
“When you went home that evening, did you tell your wife?” asked the judge.
“No, nothing happened,” said Keyes.
“A fellow employee who never exposed herself to you before pulls up her top, and you didn’t tell your wife?” asked an incredulous judge.
In cross examination by Inspector Nicholas Farrell, Keys said he was accompanied to court by his three brothers and a sister, but that his wife “was at home, working”.
Judge Hughes heard enough and just declared: “Guilty.”
He said Ms Minnock was “forthright, consistent, and credible” and that Keyes was “confusing and unbelieveable”.
“It’s incredible that something like this happened to a married man in a remote area, and that you didn’t say anything to your buddies,” noted the judge.
“I’d invite him to make an offer,” said the judge to Ray Mahon, Keye’s solicitor.
“I have nothin’,” said Keyes.
“€3,000. And that’s the starting point. You should’ve gone to prison,” said the judge.
After a brief conference, Keyes’ siblings came up with an initial payment of €1,000, and promised the remaining €2,000 by March 28.
If this was done, the judge said he would sentence Keyes to a month in jail, but suspend it on that date for two years.