A Central Criminal Court judge has agreed to delay the sentence of a Kildare teenager who sexually assaulted and raped his young cousin while his defence lodges an appeal application.
The now 17-year-old boy was found guilty of orally raping his female cousin by a jury following a trial earlier this year. He also pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assaulting her on unknown dates between October 1 and December 31st, 2018.
The accused, who cannot be named as he and the victim are both minors, was 13 at the time of the offending while his victim was then aged seven.
Ms Justice Karen O’Connor agreed to a request from defence counsel on Friday to defer finalisation of the case for two weeks while they make an application to the Court of Appeal.
Lorcan Staines SC, defending, told Ms Justice O’Connor that the intention is to ask to the Court of Appeal to lodge an appeal and to consider the “novel” approach taken by the defendant’s legal team.
No closing speech was made by defence counsel on behalf of the accused. His legal team did not carry out a cross-examination, meaning the victim did not have to attend court.
Ms Justice O’Connor agreed that she would not finalise the case in these circumstances and adjourned the matter to January 30th.
She agreed that it had been an “unusual trial” during which efforts were made to avoid causing any additional trauma or anxiety to the victim.
Ms Justice O’Connor indicated her view that a period of detention must be imposed, given the serious nature of the offences, the young age of the victim and the impact of the offending on her.
She noted that if she was sentencing an adult on the rape charge, she would set a headline sentence of eight years.
Ms Justice O’Connor indicated that she intends to impose a two-year period of detention, taking mitigating factors into account, including the fact the defendant was 13 at the time of the offence.
She also indicated that she proposes to impose an 18-month period of detention on each count of sexual assault, with all sentences to run concurrently.
The court heard that the offending took place in the victim’s home. When interviewed by specialist gardaí, the victim said the accused inserted his finger into her vagina on four occasions.
On a separate occasion, the boy orally raped the girl as part of a game and told her not to tell anyone or he would tell a lie.
The girl said she felt scared and that she would get in trouble if she told anyone. She said the accused would push a chair against the door of the room they were in.
Ms Justice O’Connor said the multiple counts, all of a serious nature, were among the aggravating factors in this case.
She noted the age disparity between the accused and the victim and that there would have been “a large power imbalance” between them.
Other aggravating factors included the impact of the offending on the victim and that these events took place in her home, which should have been a place where she felt “safe and secure”, Ms Justice O’Connor added.
She said she would take the “very young age” of the accused at the time, his lack of previous convictions and his cooperation with the investigation into account as mitigating factors.
Ms Justice O’Connor noted that the accused had engaged with relevant supports, made efforts to rehabilitate himself and there had been a delay in the case. A probation report also stated the accused is remorseful and ashamed of his actions.