A CLEANER convicted of sexual assault after he squeezed a female colleague's bottom whilst they were alone in a store in a hospital has been given a suspended jail sentence and put on the Sex Offenders' Register for seven years.
Peter Twardowski (50), of Birch Hill Meadows in Antrim town, had contested the charge and a defence barrister said the defendant, who was sacked from his role as a 'domestic' over the incident, "continues to maintain his innocence".
The defendant, who had the assistance of a Polish interpreter, appeared via video link from his solicitor's office for sentencing at Antrim Magistrates Court - sitting in Ballymena - on Tuesday.
A prosecutor said an employee said she had been sexually assaulted by the defendant in a cleaning store at Antrim Area Hospital on April 16, 2020.
The prosecutor said the victim told police that whilst alone with the defendant in the store he said: "Imagine your scream when I put my penis inside you".
The court was told the remark made her feel "very uncomfortable" and as she went to leave the store the defendant "grabbed her firmly on the right hand side of her bottom and squeezed".
When she left the store and returned to another part of the hospital a friend asked her what was "wrong" and she explained the situation.
The prosecutor said when interviewed the defendant denied the allegation.
He admitted being alone with her in the store and told police the topic of conversation prior to the contact was about him "having babies" and claimed that was "off the back of a joke".
The prosecutor said the defendant told police he knew "the boundaries" and had "respect for women" and would not have grabbed his colleague.
The court heard the defendant had a previously clear record.
A defence barrister said Twardowski was "dismissed from his post" by the Health Trust.
The lawyer said the defendant "continues to maintain his innocence".
The barrister added that Twardowski "obviously accepts Your Worship's finding but he denies that he touched" the woman "in the way in which she asserts".
Prior to the incident, the barrister said the defendant was a man of "impeccable character" with no criminal record either in Poland or Northern Ireland.
He said Twardowski came here to "make a better life for himself and his family back in Poland".
District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was a "serious allegation".
He said a Victim Impact Statement showed the victim had been "very badly affected" by the incident.
The judge said due to the previous clear record it was "not without some hesitation" that he was suspending a five months prison term for three years.
Twardowski was also put on the Sex Offenders' Register for seven years.
He was also made the subject of a Restraining Order for five years regarding the victim.
Bail was fixed for appeal in he sum of £500.
- Main picture: File picture showing a general view of Antrim Area Hospital.