Belfast Telegraph

Man sentenced for Walsh grope claim

An unemployed dance teacher has been sentenced to six months in jail for falsely accusing X Factor judge Louis Walsh of groping him in a nightclub.

Leonard Watters pleaded guilty to making two false reports to Irish police that the pop music mogul sexually assaulted him in Dublin nightspot Krystle last April.

The 24-year-old father-of-two from Navan, Co Meath, who was described in court as a Walter Mitty-type character, had apologised publicly to Mr Walsh at the city's District Court.

Passing sentence, Judge Dermot Dempsey immediately granted Watters bail to appeal against the decision, on condition that he lodged 100 euro in cash with the court.

Pleading for a non-custodial sentence, Watters' solicitor Cahir O'Higgins said his client was a tragic figure whose life had been a litany of disasters from an early age.

Watters was now a laughing stock and a joke, and had been treated as a pariah in his own community, he told the court. "For ever and a day, he will be known as the guy who accused Louis Walsh in the wrong," he said.

Mr O'Higgins said his client had suffered 80% burns to his body in a serious accident at the age of 11, for which he had to undergo 37 different medical procedures. That process was not yet over, he said.

Depicting him as a "Baron Munchhausen" who gets carried away with himself, he said Watters received 800,000 euro compensation for his accident when he reached the age of 18. He spent it within months and returned to his parents penniless, the court heard.

The only person accompanying Watters to court was charity shop organiser Anne Buchanan, who gave brief evidence that he helps her every day in the shop and attends prayer meetings nightly.

But Judge Dempsey said that, while he may have sympathy with Watters, the public had to be protected against false allegations. Mr Walsh had been put through a lot of pain and anguish, he said.

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