Ex-police trainee guilty of groping colleague
A judge has urged police chiefs to carry out an internal inquiry to weed out sexually explicit conversations among new recruits.
Bernie Kelly made her call as she convicted a former trainee officer of indecently assaulting a female colleague at the PSNI's Garnerville academy in Belfast.
Jonathan McNally (24) was accused of groping the woman's breast during a handcuffing and restraining procedure in October 2008.
It was also alleged that he made a salacious comment to her when he sprayed water over her face during a CS spray simulation.
According to the woman, he repeatedly called her a “minx” and made suggestive remarks when they were paired during the personal safety assessment.
Giving evidence at Belfast Magistrates Court she said: “I was disgusted, my body being totally violated.” McNally, whose address was given as PSNI Garnerville, denied indecent assault.
He claimed the method used during the restraining procedure was because the woman was heavier than him and it would have been impossible to use the technique taught.
He denied making any sexual innuendos, and told defence barrister Michael Boyd he only made a laughing reference to her mouth during the CS spray simulation procedure.
McNally said he had previously asked her out for dinner “in jest” and spoke of the “banter” at the table she shared with male trainees.
The court heard how one recruit's sex life was constantly coming up in conversation.
“In his view it was banter, otherwise he wouldn't have said it, and everybody was laughing,” McNally said.
But prosecuting counsel Terence Mallon accused him of identifying the woman weeks before the alleged assault.
Describing what he claimed happened on the training ground, the lawyer said: “You have had your banter, your sexual innuendos and now you're going in for the kill.”
Convicting McNally of the offence, Ms Kelly said there was no reason for the complainant to tell lies about what had happened to her.
She said: “I would like to think a full internal inquiry would be carried out to make absolutely sure if checks and balances are not in place they will be put in place to make sure this sort of discussion between student colleagues never takes place again.”