Connemara man who propositioned Irish college students gets eleven months suspended sentence

Joe Finnerty of Turlough, Rosmuc, pictured at Galway District Court on Monday. Photo: Hany Marzouk.

Joe Finnerty of Turlough, Rosmuc, pictured at Galway District Court on Monday. Photo: Hany Marzouk.

A Connemara flasher who indecently exposed himself to children attending an Irish college, offering them money to perform sexual acts on him, and who assaulted a woman while being treated in hospital has been given an 11 month prison suspended sentence and ordered to abide by strict conditions.

Seventy-year-old bachelor Joe Finnerty of Turlough, Rosmuc, was brought in custody before Galway District Court on Monday. He had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent exposure near his home on July 15, 17, and 18, 2011 and to a further charge of sexually assaulting a woman at Unit 4, Merlin Park Hospital, on September 13, 2011, and to the theft of clothes, valued at €37, from Penneys, Eyre Square Shopping Centre, on August 2, 2011.

A court sitting earlier this month heard how Finnerty had exposed himself to children aged between 10 and 13 years of age at the time, and that the children had been so tramautised that social services had to become involved. Garda Brendan Kineavy gave evidence that a number of complaints were received on July 20 last of a male who had exposed himself to the children and had offered them money to perform sexual acts. In a separate incident, the defendant had been admitted to hospital and while being treated had assaulted a patient care assistant by groping her breasts. Finnerty was further remanded in custody as there were questions over his domestic arrangements and in regard to his risk of re-offending if let back into the community.

When the case resumed this week, Judge Fahy noted that it was indicated that a suspended sentence could be applied if efforts were made to have the caravan, which Finnerty had used to expose himself to the young children as they passed by his home, to be boarded up or removed altogether. Defence solicitor Sarah O’Dowd confirmed that the consequences of not complying with the conditions of the suspended sentence have been fully explained to her client.

For the sexual assault Judge Fahy convicted Finnerty and imposed a five month sentence which was suspended for two years on condition he enter into a bond of €500 to be of good behaviour. For the three counts of indecent exposure a further six months, to run consecutively, was imposed and for the theft charge Finnerty received a three month sentence, to run concurrently, all of which were suspended on the same terms.

The conditions of the suspended sentence included that the defendant not enter the caravan on his site, for the caravan to be removed by March 20 and not to be replaced by another caravan or any temporary structure; that he refrain from alcohol; attend his GP within five days and commence an alcohol treatment programme; that he take any prescribed medication; and co-operate with the probation services. Garda Kineavy also asked for further conditions, that between June 1 and September 1, Finnerty stay away from a local shop between the 12.30pm and 2pm and between 5pm and 7pm, and that he abide by a curfew of between 9pm and 9am. “These are the times that students go to the shop, and there have been a number of incidents there,” said Garda Kineavy.

Judge Fahy then commended Garda Kineavy for the “particular interest he has given” in the case. “This is an area that is highly populated by young students learning Irish, many of whom are away from home for the first time. The parents pay high fees and expect their children to have a positive experience, not the type of experience when they encounter this man,” said Judge Fahy.

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