By Eimear Dodd
A judge at the Central Criminal Court has praised the “impressive behaviour” of a young girl for immediately reporting that she had been subjected to a sexual assault at the age of 13.
The defendant, who cannot be identified to protect the anonymity of the victim, pleaded guilty to one count of oral rape and one count of sexual assault on September 2nd, 2019.
The victim was 13 and staying in the home of a relative where the defendant, then aged 19, was also present.
Ms Justice Tara Burns said the offences were “extremely serious” and imposed an eight-year sentence in respect of the count of oral rape, with the final 12 months suspended on strict conditions.
She sentenced the defendant, now aged 22, to five years for the sexual assault count. Both sentences are to run concurrently.
Addressing the victim directly during the sentencing at the Central Criminal Court on Friday, Ms Justice Burns said she was a “very brave young girl” who should be proud of her decision to immediately report the assault.
“I hope other young women will realise that the thing to do is to make a complaint,” Ms Justice Burns said.
“You did the right thing,” she said, wishing the young girl and her family well for the future.
On the night in question, the victim was in the sitting room when the defendant attempted to give her a hug.
He then pushed her onto the couch where he began to touch her vagina and breasts.
She screamed, and he slapped her across the face, before removing some of her clothes.
The victim managed to get free and run for the front door, but the defendant grabbed her, pushed her into a bedroom and forced her to perform oral sex and masturbate him.
At this point, the victim’s relatives returned, and she immediately informed them what had happened.
The defendant was arrested and made admissions when questioned by gardai.
Ms Justice Burns said the probation report stated the defendant had been drinking heavily on the night in question. He had also found out some distressing news on the day.
Ms Justice Burns noted this information was not offered as an excuse, but to explain his state of mind.
She said the offences were “extremely serious” due to the level of violence involved. His actions were also a breach of the trust placed in him by the victim and her family.
The defendant was homeless for a time and had addiction and mental health issues. He is now in relationship and has two children.
The defendant submitted a letter of apology to the victim.
A letter from his current partner was also handed to the court and Ms Justice Burns said: “It’s hard to square how well she speaks of him and the behaviour on that night.”
Ms Justice Burns said the victim impact statement previously read to the court showed the difficulties experienced by the victim following this incident.
She said the aggravating factors included the serious nature of the offending, the young age of the victim, the use of force and the breach of trust placed in the defendant by the victim and her family.
Ms Justice Burns set a headline sentence of ten years in respect of the rape count, which she reduced to eight years with the final 12 months suspended taking the mitigation into account.
She set a headline sentence of seven years in respect of the sexual assault count, which she reduced to five years taking account of the mitigating factors.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.