A MAN exposed himself to a McDonald’s employee, when she delivered his breakfast meal to his car, to “shock” her for the “thrill of it”, Ennis District Court heard on Wednesday.
Stephen Gillam (44) with an address at Glasha in Doolin, and who runs a guest house in the area, pleaded guilty to engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour at McDonald’s restaurant on Gort Road, Ennis on June 7 last.
The incident, which involved the defendant exposing himself while taking delivery of his breakfast meal, was described by his defence solicitor, John Casey, as “a prank”, similar to what one would expect of “candid camera”.
Inspector Tom Kennedy, prosecuting, outlined that at 9.50am on June 7 last, the defendant went to the McDonald’s Drive Thru and placed an order.
“He was told to park at the front because there would be a delay in fulfilling his order. An employee had to come out to give him his order and when she did, she could see that he had the zip of his trousers open and his penis was exposed to her. She did not say anything but reported it to her manager and it was reported to the gardaí,” he said.
The matter was investigated and camera footage was obtained. On foot of the investigation, Gillam was charged.
Judge Patrick Durcan, presiding, described the act as “absolutely shocking” and asked the inspector to confirm what Gillam’s excuse was for engaging in this behaviour.
“It was that this was for the thrill of it. He wanted to see the reaction he would get and to see her shock when she came out and saw it,” Inspector Kennedy said.
He informed the court that the defendant had no previous convictions.
Defence solicitor John Casey said his client exposed himself as part of a “fad” where “people do things to shock people”.
He said it would be similar to being “punked” and that this was effectively a prank “to scare and shock people by doing outlandish things”.
He said it was a “bizarre situation” but went on to describe it like being a “candid camera” moment.
When questioned by gardaí, he said his client made a full confession and apologised to them and to the girl involved. He said that there was “no harm intended” by his client and this was “not a crime of a sexual nature” but rather one “to cause shock and embarrassment to this person”.
Mr Casey said his client runs a guesthouse in Doolin and lives with his partner and parents. “This is of great embarrassment to him. He hasn’t slept thinking about this,” he added.
Judge Durcan, commented, “I cannot accept that there was no sexual element in this”.
Mr Casey said he could assure the court that “nothing like this will ever happen again”, adding that his client has apologised and finds himself “in an embarrassing and fraught situation and will accept the consequences of it”.
He explained that the incident occurred in the morning and that there were a number of people around. This should give the court an indication that this was not “a predator out at night”.
He added that there was never a complaint like this about him [defendant] before.
Judge Durcan asked the court had the defendant ever come to garda attention before and Inspector Kennedy said, “all I can tell you is he has no previous convictions”.
When pressed, he informed the court that the answer to the court’s question was “yes, he had come to the attention of the gardaí before”.
Judge Durcan said he couldn’t go any further in his questioning on this vein. He let the matter stand for a short period of time to think about sentencing.
When he returned to the case he said, “Obviously what he did was very inappropriate, his behaviour was very bad and the effect that it had was absolutely shocking”.
He said the Director of Public Prosecutions had considered the charge to be imposed in this case and had ruled that it should be dealt with under the Public Order Act. Judge Durcan said, therefore, he could only express his views within the confines of the charge before the court, that of engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour in public.
He said this is a “very unusual case and it is not a very nice case” but he had to take into consideration the fact that Gillam had no previous convictions, had entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity and had co-operated with the gardaí.
Bearing all this in mind, he ordered the defendant to pay €1,500 to the court discretionary fund and, if that was not paid, he would “deal with it on another basis”.
He gave him until November 23 to lodge the case.
By Carol Byrne