Karen Walker trial: Bangor woman accused of molesting girl handed £100 fine after pleading guilty to common assault
Judge says guilty plea should be of 'considerable comfort' to victim
A woman accused of sexually molesting a girl 15 years ago pleaded guilty to common assault on Tuesday.
As the trial of 30-year-old Karen Walker was about to get underway at Downpatrick Crown Court, the first count of indecent assault was read out to her again.
Standing in the dock wearing a black jacket and black top, Walker read from a card when she told the court clerk she was "not guilty of indecent assault but guilty of common assault" on a date unknown between 1 January 1998 and 1 February 1999.
Prosecuting lawyer Samuel Magee told trial Judge Piers Grant that plea "is acceptable to the Crown" and accordingly, asked for "the remaining counts to lie on the file, not to be proceeded with without the leave of the court."
Those other counts were one of indecent assault and three charges relating to alleged acts of gross indecency with a child on dates between 1 January 1998 and 17 January 2000 when Walker's alleged victim would have been between seven and 10 years old.
This would have been the second time Walker had been in trial over allegations that she sexually abused the complainant, allegedly telling her it was their "wee thing."
Opening the prosecution case at her first trial last month, Mr Magee claimed Walker touched the girl's private parts and incited the alleged victim to touch her after telling her "I'll be the man and you be the woman."
He told the jury it was the Crown case that sometimes, Walker reversed the ascribed roles but that she allegedly told her victim the alleged sexual activity was "our wee thing."
Mr Magee said while he accepted Walker herself would have been a young teenager at the time of the alleged abuse, "she was old enough, we say, to know what she was doing and to comprehend how inappropriate her actions were."
Walker, from the Bexley Road in Bangor, was arrested and interviewed about the allegations in August last year but denies any wrongdoing.
On Tuesday however, Mr Magee painted a very different picture when he told the court how it was now agreed that when her victim was around seven or either and Walker herself was 14-years-old, they were alone in a room together when "unlawfully and without the consent of the victim, the defendant touched the victim in a manner which was unwarranted."
The lawyer did not state where Walker touched the girl but that the "assault is reflected in the defendants admissions and her guilty plea."
Defence QC Terence McDonald said while he was in no way trivialising the incident, the case now came down to a 15-year-old case of common assault and that by pleading guilty, Walker had spared her victim from giving evidence which "would have been painful for both parties."
Having thanked the sworn in jury for their attendance, Judge Grant said he was content to deal with the case without reports.
Imposing a £100 fine and ordering Walker to give her victim £500 as compensation, the judge said the guilty plea should be of "considerable comfort" to the victim and had saved her from "unpleasantness" in having to testify again.
He warned Walker that if she did not pay the fine and compensation within eight weeks, she faces 14 days in jail in default.