Thursday, July 28, 2022

Eimear Dodd

A teenager who sexually assaulted his young cousin and told her to keep it a secret has been handed a detention period of two years.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found not guilty of rape, but guilty of sexual assault following a trial earlier this year at the Central Criminal Court.

The teenager sexually assaulted his cousin, who was then eight, while she was staying at his family home on July 20th, 2019.

The teenager does not accept the verdict of the jury and continues to maintain his innocence.

Finalising the case on Thursday, Ms Justice Karen O’Connor said the defendant’s position limits the options open to the court.

She placed the offending in the upper range and set a headline sentence of four years of detention, which she reduced to two years taking the mitigation into consideration.

She said the trial had heard that the victim and her brother were staying at the home of the defendant’s family.

The victim was putting on her shoes to go outside when the defendant called to her, saying that he wanted to tell her a secret. He told her to lie on the floor.

The defendant pulled down her knickers.

Specialist examination

The victim told her mother who contacted gardaí. Evidence of bruising was identified following a specialist examination.

A specialist interview with the victim was carried out by gardaí in August 2019. Gardai also carried out a search of the house and retrieved the victim’s knickers.

Ms Justice O’Connor referred to the victim impact statement previously read by the victim’s mother which outlined that the girl had changed from happy to scared and frightened.

While the victim is receiving professional help, her mother said the “bad memory is permanently etched on her [the victim’s] brain”.

Ms Justice O’Connor said the defendant had given a voluntary interview to gardaí and was co-operative. She said the defendant had no history of drugs or alcohol and was a good student, who wished to continue his education.

She noted that probation and psychological reports stated the defendant does not accept responsibility for the offending behaviour and has limited empathy for the victim.

She said the aggravating factors included the age disparity, the impact of the incident on the victim and that the defendant told the victim to keep it a secret.

The judge noted the defendant’s previous good character, record in school, parental separation, co-operation with gardaí and hopes for the future as mitigating factors.

She backdated the sentence to June 22nd, 2022.

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. 

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