A Lisburn solicitor who was convicted of sexually assaulting a female colleague was yesterday fined £1,000 and ordered to pay his victim £2,500 by way of compensation.
However, at Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Nigel Broderick revealed that without either the consent or knowledge of Christopher Logue, his boss Joseph Mulholland had written to the judge privately – which Judge Broderick said “I do not consider appropriate” given that he is a judge and Mr Mulholland was a witness in the trial.
Following an exchange with defence QC Eugene Grant concerning a possible application for the judge to excuse himself from the case, Judge Broderick implied that Mr Mulholland, who was not in court to see his colleague being sentenced, had asked the judge to excuse himself from dealing with the final stage of the case, telling the court that such applications “should be made in open court”.
The judge said any such application “should have been made sooner rather than later”, adding that he had sent Mr Mulholland’s private correspondence to the office of the Lord Chief Justice but that its content would not affect his decision on the sentence to be imposed.
Imposing the fine and compensation order, he warned 34-year-old Logue he could still be sued as his victim had “civil remedies available to her”, adding that although he was not placed on the sex offenders’ register, “by virtue of the conviction your name may appear on the barred list of working with children and vulnerable adults”.
At the end of his two-day trial last month, Logue, a married father-of-two who is a junior partner in the prominent Co Down law firm of Joe Mulholland & Co, was convicted of sexually assaulting a female colleague at an annual solicitors’ function in a Newcastle hotel on November 23, 2012.
Logue had unsuccessfully tried to gag the media from naming him as the defendant.
His victim gave evidence that a drunken Logue introduced himself before he then pestered, “manhandled” and “I suppose groping is the best word” for around 15 minutes before she eventually left the table and joined other company.
Logue, from Lady Wallace Crescent in Lisburn, gave evidence on his own behalf, conceding that while he was in “boisterous form, in good form” having had a few pints of beer and reciting poetry to those at the table, sexual assault was “absolutely not” his intention.
“I would describe it as being an eejit, being a nuisance,” said the solicitor.
Yesterday he sat just five seats away from his victim, head bowed and with his hands clasped as Mr Grant described him as a “skeleton of the man that he once was”, his hard-earned legal career “shattered” but adding there was the means to meet any monetary penalty.
Imposing the fine and compensation order, as well as a £15 offender levy, Judge Broderick said while he accepted Logue’s offence was in the “lowest category” of sexual assault, nevertheless it was still an alcohol-fuelled, serious matter which had had a negative impact on his victim’s family and professional life.
Afterwards Logue declined to comment and, when asked directly if he intended to appeal his conviction or sentence, said: “I don’t know.”