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Man charged with sexual assault of girl was injured by vigilantes, court told

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 07/02/2023 Tom Tuite

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

Anatol Botnari, 23, was arrested on Saturday night and taken to Ballymun station.

Gardaí charged the traffic maintenance worker, from Moldova, with the sexual assault of a teenage girl in the city's northside on Saturday, February 4.

A man accused of sexually assaulting a girl suffered head injuries after being confronted by up to 40 'vigilantes', a court has heard. Pic: Aitormmfoto/Shutterstock © Provided by Extra.ie A man accused of sexually assaulting a girl suffered head injuries after being confronted by up to 40 'vigilantes', a court has heard. Pic: Aitormmfoto/Shutterstock

He was held 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 the accused made no reply to the charge.

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

Anatol Botnari, 23, was arrested on Saturday night and taken to Ballymun station. Pic: Mark Gusev/Shutterstock © Provided by Extra.ie Anatol Botnari, 23, was arrested on Saturday night and taken to Ballymun station. Pic: Mark Gusev/Shutterstock

Detective Garda Garland told the court the man was accused of sexual assault of a juvenile. He alleged that there were witnesses to the incident, and that the accused was on CCTV close to the scene. He said the accused provided two addresses.

The court heard that when the first was checked, 'the person at that address confirmed that the accused does not live there'.

Cross-examined by defence solicitor Paddy McGarry, Detective Garda Garland confirmed that the accused did not have a bench warrant history and that he and the witnesses were not known to each other.

The officer said that his main issue was the address. He also said he was unsure of the accused's true identity and was waiting to hear back from Interpol.

Gardaí charged the traffic maintenance worker, from Moldova, with the sexual assault of a teenage girl in the city's northside on Saturday, February 4. Pic: Noel Bennett/Shutterstock © Provided by Extra.ie Gardaí charged the traffic maintenance worker, from Moldova, with the sexual assault of a teenage girl in the city's northside on Saturday, February 4. Pic: Noel Bennett/Shutterstock

He agreed with the solicitor that Mr Botnari was initially allowed to stay at his first address to get a PPS number but that 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 he claimed he and his brother worked in road traffic maintenance and that they both lived with and paid rent to a family there.

Detective Garda Garland said that address was checked too, but the homeowners told gardaí the accused did not live there.

He accepted, however, that they were not in court. Detective Garda Garland 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 who they were. However, he confirmed that the accused received medical treatment. He could not say if members of the group of 30-40 were among the witnesses who made statements.

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

He asked the judge to note that his client, who he said has the presumption of innocence, 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.

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

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

He 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 witnesses.

The judge also warned him he must sign on daily at a Garda station and provide an address to the gardaí within 48 hours.

He 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 the help of an interpreter.

The accused was remanded in custody with consent to bail to appear at Cloverhill District Court on Friday of this week.

Judge Liddy also said that there were reporting restrictions for the alleged victim.

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