appeals abuse conviction
By Vivion Kilfeather
January 20, 2006
The Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday reserved judgement in an appeal against conviction brought by a former Marist Brother and teacher currently serving an eight-year sentence for 180 counts of indecent assault on six schoolboys.
Christopher Cosgrove, aged 62, of Ballyhaunis Road, Claremorris, Co Mayo, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in March last year by Sligo Circuit Court on 180 counts of indecent assault on six complainants between July 1, 1968 and June 30, 1977.
The Circuit Court was told that while a teacher he indecently assaulted six complainants in front of a classroom full of students by sitting them on his knee, rubbing his cheek against theirs and by fondling their genitals.
Cosgrove denied the charges and was told by the sentencing judge that as a paedophile he had abused his position of trust for his own deviant pleasure and sexual excitement.
Michael O’Higgins SC for Cosgrove, submitted that the trial judge erred in law in failing to adequately warn the jury with regard to the effect of gross delay on the part of complainants in sexual offence cases.
He also submitted that the trial of a person on a large number of counts carried a risk of the jury being confused by the number of offences as well as the risk jurors would feel there is no smoke with out fire.
He claimed the trial judge erred in law in failing to direct the jury to be satisfied of the applicant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt upon each count in isolation before corroboration of such a count could be considered.
Eanna Mulloy SC, for the DPP, said no application had been made by Cosgrove’s counsel during the trial to withdraw any of the 180 counts. He also submitted there was a sadistic sexual element involved in the indecent assaults with Cosgrove going for the “good looking fair-haired ones”.
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns presiding with Mr Justice Diarmuid O’Donovan and Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said judgement on the conviction issue would be given on February 24.
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