Belfast Telegraph

Man jailed for indecently assault sleeping grandmother fails to overturn conviction

By Alan Erwin

A man jailed for indecently assaulting a sleeping grandmother failed today in a bid to overturn his conviction.

Barry Mooney challenged the guilty verdict reached by a retrial jury who heard an audio account from his accuser after her death.

His lawyers argued that playing recordings of her sobbing and crying during the original cross-examination unfairly denied him the chance to establish whether her emotions were fuelled by embarrassment at having lied.

But the Court of Appeal held that the conviction was safe after rejecting all grounds of challenge.

In the first case of its kind Mooney, 28, was convicted of indecent assault by a majority verdict at Belfast Crown Court last year and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

His 54-year-old alleged victim had died from a heart attack shortly after the first trial was aborted in 2011.

But a decision was taken to allow audio recordings of her evidence from that hearing at the subsequent retrial.

The court heard how Mooney, formerly of Brompton Park, Belfast, called at her home in the early hours of November 1, 2008 asked to use the toilet.

He knew her from having played football for the same team as her son.

The woman recounted how she had gone back to bed but later woke up to find Mooney standing over her performing a sex act on himself.

The jury rejected his claims to have been invited into the woman's bedroom.

Appealing the guilty verdict, defence counsel claimed there were ambiguities in the alleged victim's emotional reaction which could not be properly assessed by recordings alone.

It was contended that had the jury been able to assess her demeanour they could have decided she was embarrassed at being asked intimate questions.

Another possibility was that her break-down during cross-examination was due to potential inconsistencies in her evidence for which she had no adequate response, senior judges were told.

The prosecution, however, insisted the crying and sobbing lasted for just five minutes in more than two days of evidence.

Refusing leave to appeal the conviction, Lord Justice Girvan said: "Very significantly, it was not put to the complainant in cross-examination that she was faking false emotions or that she was attempting to strengthen a lying case by contriving a display of false emotions."

He added: "We are satisfied that the judge's actual direction resulted in no injustice to the defence and it does not undermine the safety of the conviction."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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