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Pensioner cleared of sexual assault

courtA 78-YEAR-OLD man was found not guilty at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Wednesday of last week after being accused of sexual assault.

John Joseph Colfer, of Haven Court, Monkton, had been charged with sexual assault on a woman from Monkton on two separate occasions. The first was cuddling and kissing her on May 23, and the second was grabbing her while she was in a phone box on May 25.

The Herald cannot name the woman for legal reasons. Three 999 calls were played from the two incidents. During the calls, the alleged victim refused to give her name a number of times and mumbled considerably over the phone. She was very unclear about the reason she was calling and said: “I went to use his landline. I was on my own. I was being stupid” and later “I know you won’t do **** all about it because you don’t do **** all around here”. In the last call, we hear her say “I just want him to leave me alone” and “I hate him” while crying.

She claimed that she had gone to Colfer’s home address to use his telephone. She then gave her version of events: “I went to use his phone and he asked me to sit down. He sat next to me and put his arms around me and started kissing me. I didn’t want him to. I used to live next door to him. I went to get up to leave and he said ‘You only leave when I tell you to’. I was scared. After he went to do something with the dogs, I just got up and walked out of his front door”.

She then spoke about the second incident: “I was in the phone box and I didn’t know he was there until he put his arms around me and said we’ve got to finish what we started and called me a slut. I said I didn’t start nothing and he went home”.

Defence solicitor, Kate Smith said: “You have indicated that you have known Mr Colfer for a long time and brought your children up next door to him. I understand that you no longer have a relationship with your daughters. I imagine that much be very stressing and upsetting for you?”

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The alleged victim confirmed this. Miss Smith continued: “I understand you attended at his address. He was the last link to your daughters, so is the reason you attended the house not to use the telephone, but to inquire about your daughters and you got upset?”

She denied this fact and said: “We were talking earlier and he said I’m welcome any time”.

Miss Smith asked the victim why she went to the house. She said: “I was invited. He said I could come over and chill out. I knew he had a landline and I wanted to use it”.

Miss Smith then said: “You’re lying, aren’t you? Mr Colfer doesn’t have a landline and you’re lying about the conversation. Your statement says ‘I went over to Shaun’s phone to call the police. I’d been having problems with kids. He said if I ever have any problems I can use the phone’. What I’m suggesting is you’re giving a different account in the court than you did to the officer. Why didn’t you tell the police what you told us?”

The alleged victim said: “After what happened I was really upset”.

Miss Smith replied: “How do you say that affected you? Did it affect your memory?”

She told the court: “I’ve got depression and health problems and I don’t need to sit here getting a mouthful from you”.

Miss Smith then asked the victim: “Can I suggest you’re giving an inconsistent account on what happened? Mr Colfer did not have a conversation with you”.

She replied: “He did because I was with my ex-partner. He went to Nottingham a couple of weeks ago”.

Miss Smith asked again: “You went to discuss your children” and was cut off by the alleged victim, who shouted “No, I don’t want nothing to do with my children”.

Miss Smith told her that she knew it was difficult for her. Her response was: “You know something, you’re doing my bloody head in! He told me he didn’t have a phone, I went to get up but I couldn’t and said you leave when I tell you to. Now can we leave it?”

Miss Smith said: “I’m afraid I can’t. Did you tell him why you were there or did you just go in?” After not receiving an answer, she continued: “I understood you came into the property, he told you he didn’t have a phone and then you sat down. You haven’t said why you’re there, and he didn’t ask?”

The victim denied this and Miss Smith continued: “Why didn’t you leave the house after he told you he didn’t have a phone?”. She replied saying: “I couldn’t get up”.

Miss Smith asked: “Why didn’t you inform the police about the conversation about the landline? The defendant told you he didn’t have one, why is it a matter you have failed to mention? My problem is, you’re telling the court one thing and your statement says another. Can you explain why you failed to mention the conversation about the landline?”

The alleged victim had no answer.

“On two occasions in your statement you asked to use the telephone. Why didn’t you include his response that he didn’t have a phone?”

This question was asked twice. The alleged victim failed to give an answer.

Miss Smith read her 999 call: “I went in to use his phone. He kissed me all over and said I’m the Monkton slut’. Why didn’t you tell 999 what happened?”

She replied: “I know what happened”.

Miss Smith said: “You have given different accounts. There is nothing in your statement about him calling you the Monkton slut. It’s inconsistent and isn’t in your statement because it didn’t happen. The defendant’s case is you came to speak about your children”.

The alleged victim screamed: “Leave my children out of this!”

Miss Smith continued saying: “He put his hands over your shoulder to comfort you,” and was cut off by the alleged victim shouting “He was putting his hand all over me”.

Miss Smith replied: “Was he? You’ve never said that before. You’ve previously said ‘he had his arms around me’. Where did he actually have his hands?”

Her reply was: “You’re female, you should know”.

There was a pause before Miss Smith continued: “’He had his arms around me and I couldn’t move’. Where on your body did he have his hands? This defendant has been charged with extremely serious offences and I need to establish exactly what happened. Had you been drinking May 23?”

The alleged victim denied this. Miss Smith asked: “Why were you refusing to give your name?”

Her reply was: “Because the coppers know me”.

Miss Smith said: “In the incident on May 25 you were on the phone and you had just put the receiver down, and you state ‘he was right behind me. He put his arms around my waist and said we’ve got to finish what we started’. You made no mention about the comments he made over the phone. Upon being asked by Miss Smith if she claims to have told Mr Colfer to ‘sod off’ with reference to the alleged incident on May 25, she said: “Yes. Any more language? Because I’ve got plenty” and later said “I am having enough of you!”

Prosecuting, David Weale read out Mr Colfer’s statement: “She came to my house about her children, and she was crying a lot saying she is not allowed to see her children. I put my arms around her and gave her a kiss on the lips and her cheek. It lit her up a bit. It put a smile back on her face. When a woman’s in distress you give them a cuddle, in a way she gave me permission. I couldn’t help her with her problem. She did not ask to use the landline, and she left around 10 or 15 minutes after the kiss. “I didn’t call her a slut. I saw her to the door and waved goodbye. I’m 78 years of age, I lost that long ago. In the second incident I didn’t see her that day. I got off the bus around 5pm and I walked past the phone box on the way home, and I did not see anyone.”

Miss Smith pointed out in her final submission that it is concerning that there were no other eye witnesses to back up her account of what happened May 25 and that her evidence falls short.

Magistrates found Mr Colfer not guilty, and told the court: “We do not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a sexual assault took place on either occasion”.’