Man accused of sexual assault injured by 'vigilantes', court told

Man accused of sexual assault injured by 'vigilantes', court told
Photo: PA Images

Tom Tuite

A man accused of sexually assaulting a girl in Dublin suffered head injuries after being confronted by up to 40 "vigilantes", a court has heard.

Anatol Botnari (23) was arrested on Saturday night and was taken to Ballymun Garda station.

Gardaí charged the traffic maintenance worker from Moldova with the sexual assault of a teenage girl on the northside of Dublin city on February 4th.


He was detained pending his appearance on Monday at Dublin District Court before Judge Ciaran Liddy, who set €750 bail with a range of conditions.

Detective Garda Conor Garland told Judge Liddy that Mr Botnari made no reply to the charge.

Objecting to bail, Det Garland cited flight risk concerns and said the accused, who has given an address at Sorrel Heath, Clonsilla, in Dublin has been in Ireland since September.

He told the court the man was accused of sexual assault of a juvenile. Det Garlan alleged there were witnesses to the incident and the accused was captured on CCTV near the scene.


He said the accused provided two addresses. The court heard when the first was checked, "the person at that address confirmed that the accused does not live there".

During cross-examining by defence solicitor Paddy McGarry, Det Garland confirmed Mr Botnari did not have a bench warrant history and the accused and the alleged victim were not known to each other.


Det Garland said his main issue was the accused's address, adding he was unsure of Mr Botnari's true identity and waiting to hear back from Interpol.

He agreed with Mr McGarry that Mr Botnari was initially allowed to stay at his first address to get a PPS number, but he no longer lived there.


He said Mr Botnari could not name the second address but was able to locate it on Google maps in Ballyfermot.

The court heard Mr Botnari he and his brother worked in road traffic maintenance and both lived with a family to whom they paid rent.

Det Garland said address in Ballyfermot was also checked but the homeowners told gardaí the accused did not live there. However, the detective accepted the homeowners were not in court on Monday.

He also agreed with the defence that the accused had to be hospitalised for head wounds "due to people at the scene".

The solicitor described them as a "vigilante group", but the officer said he did not know they were.  However, he confirmed the accused received medical treatment.

He could not say if members of the group of 30-40 were among the witnesses who made statements.

Bail plea

Pleading for bail, the solicitor argued that a lack of an address was not enough of a reason to deny bail.

He asked the judge to note his client had given two addresses and details about jobs he held.

He said the accused could find hostel accommodation and provide a new contact number because his phone was lost during the alleged incident.

He added that it was hoped the accused's brother could provide financial support to his client, though he was not in court on Monday.

The court heard Mr Botnari used a Romanian passport, which he claimed he left in the house in Ballyfermot.

Judge Liddy noted the garda objections, but said conditions would alleviate his concerns about Mr Botnari evading justice.

The judge set cash bail in Mr Botnari's bond of €750 and ordered him to surrender his passport and stay away from parts of north Dublin and any witnesses in the case. He also warned the accused that he must sign on daily at a Garda station and provide an address to gardaí within 48 hours.

The judge granted legal aid to the accused, who has not yet indicated a plea.

Mr Botnari did not speak during the hearing and listened to the proceedings with help of an interpreter.

He was remanded in custody, with consent to bail on these terms, to appear at Cloverhill District Court on Friday.

The judge confirmed there were reporting restrictions in place to protect the identity of the alleged victim.