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Former housing association chief caught in a sex act at Slieve Donard Hotel

By Chris Woodhouse and Paul Higgins

Published 10/05/2016

Dermot Leonard
Dermot Leonard

This is the shamed former housing chief convicted of carrying out a lewd act in front of shocked young woman at a luxury Northern Ireland hotel.

Ex-company director Dermot Leonard pleaded guilty last week to “outraging public decency” after an incident at the four-star Slieve Donard Hotel in Co. Down last year.

Leonard was chief executive of Apex Procurement NI which is linked to Apex, one the province’s largest housing providers, until he resigned in September last year - nine months after the flashing incident.

At Newtownards Crown Court on Thursday the 55-year-old, of Ailesbury Crescent in south Belfast, admitted performing a sex act in the spa of the high class Newcastle hotel on January 26 last year.

Exposed

A prosecution lawyer told the court how a woman in her 20s was using the spa when she spotted a man in the sauna with his shorts pulled down and she could “see his penis was exposed”.

The spa was busy with guests, including many children, but Leonard continued to perform a sex act on himself “for a few seconds and continued to stare at her” while she moved to a different part of the spa.

The police were called and it transpired that earlier the same day, Leonard had approached a middle-aged woman and made personal comments to her which she found offensive, although there was no suggestion of any physical approach.

Leonard was arrested after cops checked CCTV footage but when he was interviewed he denied doing anything wrong.

He told police he had been lying down but jumped up when he saw an elderly woman “struggling” with the sauna door but his shorts “became snagged”.

Denying that he was performing a sex act or exposing himself at any stage, Leonard instead claimed the woman must have seen him “putting his hands to his shorts to adjust himself”.

The prosecution lawyer revealed that Leonard had a relevant conviction for a similar matter from 20 years ago.

Judge Piers Grant adjourned the case for a medical report into the consequences for the victim who was deeply affected by the incident and felt that she needed counselling.

Judge Grant released Leonard on continuing bail and is due to appear in court again tomorrow.

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