Social welfare official found not guilty on coercion charge

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An official at the Department of Social Protection in Sligo has been found not guilty by direction of the trial judge on a charge of coercion at Sligo Circuit Court this morning, Tuesday.

Andrew Gilmartin (46) of Drumfad, Grange, had pleaded not guilty to compelling Martha Rooney, Colleary Drive, Sligo, to do an act which “she was lawfully entitled to abstain from” at the Social Welfare offices in Cranmore, Sligo on April 9, 2014.

Ms Rooney had alleged that the accused had asked her for oral sex to stop her avoiding prosecution for fraud as she had been caught working and claiming social welfare.
Andrew Gilmartin, in a statement to gardai, denied this.

The trial began last Thursday but on Friday, following the completion of the prosecution case, defence counsel Rory Staines sought a direction from Judge Keenan Johnston.

Today, Judge Johnston delivered his ruling on that application.

The judge said that he was of the view that given the conflict of evidence of Ms Rooney and Mr Gilmartin and the inconsistencies in Ms Rooney’s evidence, her admission of having previously been ecomonic with the truth when filling up her lone parent application form, together with the absence of any independent corroboration, a properly charged jury could not but have a reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused and would therefore have to return a verdict of not guilty.

Judge Keenan said he was therefore duty bound to take the case from the jury and direct them to return a not guilty verdict.

See this Thursday’s Sligo Weekender for the full details.

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