Soldier accused of sexually abusing colleagues more likely under influence of alcohol than concussion, doctor tells court

Limited court martial hears defandant received a blow to the head immediately before alleged sexual assault

A former member of the Defence Forces who allegedly sexually abused colleagues was more likely to have been suffering the effects of alcohol, rather than concussion, a medical expert has told a limited court martial.

The court, sitting at McKee Barracks in Dublin, has been hearing a case in which a former soldier pleaded not guilty to two allegations of sexual assault against a woman colleague and not guilty to one further sexual assault charge against a male colleague in November 2021. He has pleaded not guilty to the three charges.

It is alleged that, on the date in question, the soldier sexually assaulted the woman soldier by placing his hands on her leg, without consent, and moving them up her thigh. It is further alleged that, on a separate occasion on the same date, he sexually assaulted the woman colleague again when he placed his right hand on the inside of her leg and moved it towards her groin.

It is also alleged the former solider sexually assaulted a male soldier by putting his arms around his colleague in a hugging gesture and moving his face towards him, causing the complainant to believe the defendant was trying to kiss him.


The court had previously been told the alleged incidents had happened after a drinking session in the defendant’s room had led to an altercation, allegedly resulting in a number of blows to the defendant’s face. Neither the defendant nor the witnesses may be identified by order of the court.

Giving evidence at the resumed hearing on Monday, consultant in emergency medicine Prof John Ryan of St Vincent’s University Hospital, who runs a public clinic dealing with concussion, said he had examined the defendant’s medical reports.

Mr Ryan said from reviewing the reports, and considering an injury to the face allegedly received by the defendant, he had concluded “there isn’t sufficient evidence to support a ‘more likely than not’ diagnosis of concussion”.

He told prosecuting counsel Comdt Sean Coffey BL while the defendant had “clearly suffered facial injuries” the medical reports had contained “no evidence to support any intracranial injury to the brain of any significance”.

Mr Ryan said symptoms of concussion might include problems with vision, light and noise, the feeling of being in a fog, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, confusion, sadness and feelings of nervousness and anxiety.

He said the report of a neurological examination of the defendant, including scans, had “appeared normal”. The examination had shown “a lack of the factors we would normally associate with concussion”.

Cross examined by Kathleen Leader SC with Michael Vallely Bl instructed by Fergus O’Regan of O’Regan Little Solicitors, Mr Ryan agreed the medical examination was dated two days after the alleged sexual assaults.

Mr Ryan agreed with Ms Leader that symptoms of mild concussion might include “the ability to reason and make decisions”.

He said “most of the cases we would see would not involve unconsciousness.”

Ms Leader also put it to Mr Ryan that there was evidence that the defendant had appeared to be “not making sense” and had to be “assisted to his room on more than one occasion”.

Ms Leader asked Prof Ryan whether symptoms of a mild concussion could clear up after 24 hours. Mr Ryan agreed this was possible.

However, Mr Ryan agreed with counsel for the prosecution Mr Coffey that “it was more likely that the behaviour was attributable to intoxication”.

“That is my opinion, yes”, said Mr Ryan.

The case continues on Tuesday.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist