Solicitor Christopher Logue convicted of 'leery and humiliating' sex assault during a legal society dinner
The career of a solicitor convicted of a drunken sexual assault on a female colleague has been left in ruins as he faces being struck off.
Christopher Logue (34) was found guilty yesterday of manhandling a newly-qualified solicitor at a social function for the legal profession.
Earlier in legal proceedings, the solicitor had tried to prevent news outlets from being allowed to name him after being charged.
During a two-day contest, Logue, of Lady Wallace Crescent, Lisburn, insisted his behaviour at an East Down Solicitors' Association dinner on November 23 last year, was that of an "eejit and a nuisance" rather than predatory.
However, Judge Nigel Broderick was convinced by the evidence of the injured party who described Logue as "leery, intimidating, humiliating, unacceptable."
Her evidence was supported by that of her two teenage children who were working as waiters at the function.
The woman told the court that Logue sat down close beside her and pestered her for almost 15 minutes, attempting to bear hug her before eventually trying to climb onto her lap.
She said he ignored her insistence that he "respect" her personal space and instead told her he would like to "enjoy" her.
The woman said she gave the defendant a "bye-ball" because of his intoxication before finally deciding "enough is enough."
She said she then elbowed him before jumping to her feet as he fell face first into her lap.
"It was surreal and outside the norms of what you would expect," she said. "I was embarrassed and aware my children and other colleagues were present. I felt humiliated."
Describing Logue as "excitable and intoxicated", she said he tried to "nuzzle" into her chest at one stage before trying to climb on top of her.
"It took two or three defensive pushes to push him off me," she said. "He seemed so determined to get his hands on me. I believe it was sexually motivated, I do not believe he would have done the same actions had it been a male."
Under cross-examination, defence barrister Eugene Grant QC pointed out discrepancies in the injured party's police statement and her evidence to the court. Mr Grant said he was particularly concerned that the injured party said Logue had not touched her breast in her original statement, but said in court that he had.
The woman's daughter, who gave evidence by videolink, said she was angry when she noticed how uncomfortable her mother was, while her son said he approached Logue when he saw him trying to bear hug his mother.
"I went over and put my hands on his shoulder and said, 'That is my ma', thinking he would be embarrassed, but he kept doing it," he said.
Logue told the court that he was not proud of his behaviour on the night and said he could not remember the incident. He insisted his actions, which were captured by CCTV, were not sexual.
"I will accept responsibility for my faults. I am only human. I am not perfect but I would never do something like that," he said.
"I thought it was great craic. Obviously she did not think so. Fair enough. I am not proud of acting an eejit. I am not proud of my behaviour that night."
Logue's senior business partner, Joe Mulholland, who was sitting a couple of feet away from the defendant during the incident, said he did not notice anything untoward.
"He was drunk, but it was pure and utter banter," he said.
However, Judge Broderick said he was satisfied the assault was sexual and said the injured party did not strike him as someone "given to histrionics".
He said he could not be swayed by sentiments of sympathy for Logue and what may happen to him personally and professionally as a result of his conviction.
Mr Mulholland said his colleague intended to appeal.
Arleen Elliott, president of the Law Society, said Logue could be struck off. "Any solicitor convicted of a serious criminal offence through the courts can expect to be referred to the independent Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which is empowered to take appropriate action, including striking off the roll of solicitors," she said.
Christopher Logue's conviction for sexual assualt follows legal attempts to ban news outlets from being allowed to name him. In the early stages of legal proceedings, the Downpatrick solicitor managed to obtain a reporting ban, claiming his reputation would be damaged by the allegations and the case against him would be prejudiced. However, a judge overturned the ban saying it was in the public interest for him to be named. The judge's decision came after the media challenged the reporting ban.