Man convicted of solo sex act in gym changing room got ‘wrong cues’ from LGBTQ+ event

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A Dublin man’s solo sex act in the changing room of a hotel gym during an LGBTQ+ weekend was “an aberration of sorts”, a court had heard.

The 45-year-old man appeared at Ennis District Court, having admitted engaging in an act of masturbation at the Inn at Dromoland, County Clare, in view of other persons, contrary to section 45 of Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, at an earlier hearing.

The incident occurred in February 2023.

As widely reported in the Irish press, judge Alec Gabbett said the event “gave out the wrong cues” to the accused, noted the man’s good probation report and questioned whether a person should be criminalised by in such circumstances.

“I think this is an aberration of sorts and is unfortunate,” Gabbett said.

Garda sergeant John Burke told the court that the defendant didn’t realise that the “complainant was using the facility as a gym and thought that he was part of the party, essentially”.

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The defendant’s advances to another man using the changing rooms were rebuffed and the “complainant then proceeded to change clothes and as he did so, the defendant engaged in a sexual act on himself”.

Michael French told the judge that his client had no previous convictions and had taken the matter “very, very seriously”, co-operating fully with the Garda investigation.

French described the incident as isolated, saying: “My client is not likely to come before court again.”

He added that the complainant hadn’t made a victim impact statement and that his client had €500 (£420/$540) that he could donate to charity or give to the person who made the complaint.

Judge Gabbett struck out the case and said he was “very conscious that the whole process is in itself a punishment”, adding if the accused handed the €500 to the Court Discretionary Fund, he had a charity in mind for it.

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