THE case of a man charged with indecent assault and gross indecency against young boys had to be abandoned just minutes before it was due to start, after the judge realised he knew one of the potential witnesses personally.
The case against the man, who is in his seventies, was due to start on Tuesday morning at Letterkenny Circuit Court.
The accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is charged with seven different charges including one of gross indecency and six of indecent assault. At least one witness had come from outside the jurisdiction.
A videolink had also been set up for an alleged victim to give evidence in the trial which was expected to last up to three days. However, Judge John O’Hagan said it would be “wrong” for him to hear the case.
“I think it would be unfair on the accused and would put him under pressure in relation to the trial,” said the Judge.
He said that it was with “great regret to all parties” that he had to make this decision and stated that he was aware of the “hardship, hurt and feeling that the system is letting them down” that the victims and their families must be feeling.
He said he did not realise the person was involved until he came out of his chambers and saw the person sitting on the witness bench.
“I have no option in my present situation but to resign from the case. There is nothing I can do about it, but it would be utterly wrong for me to hear this case,” he said.
He adjourned the case until the next sitting of the circuit court in April and said he would raise the matter with the President of the Circuit court, and would have another judge assigned to the trial.