Suspended sentence for man who sexually assaulted Limerick teen with intellectual disability

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Limerick District Court

Limerick District Court

A SEPARATED father-of-five who sexually assaulted a teenage girl who has an intellectual disability in Limerick has avoided a prison sentence.

The 51-year-old, who is originally from Dublin, had denied the charge which related to an incident at the girl’s home in a village in Limerick on June 9, 2013.

He was convicted following a lengthy hearing at Limerick District Court at the end of October.

In a written victim impact statement which was submitted to Judge Marie Keane, the teen said she still thinks about what happened and that she feels like crying all the time. “It made me feel down,” she wrote.

The girl, who was 13 when the offence happened, said she didn’t understand what the defendant was doing at the time but that she is glad she told her mother what happened.

Previously, Judge Keane was told the offence happened at around 10pm during a party which was taking place at the house.

 After a complaint was made to gardai a number of months later, the victim was interviewed by specialist garda interviewers.

In portions of the interview which were played in court, the young girl can be seen describing how the defendant began rubbing against her in the crowded kitchen before feeling her breast and bottom.

“He started feeling my breast and my arse with his hand,” she said.

In her evidence, the teenager’s mother said she did not see “anything untoward on the night” and that it wasn’t until sometime later that she realised what had happened.

She agreed with Sergeant Donal Cronin, prosecuting, that at one point during the night she had sent her daughter to her bedroom as she had punched the defendant in the face on three occasions.

”She gave him a box, I took her out (of the room) but she ran back in and gave him another box,” she said adding that the teenager was angry but would not say why.

In his evidence during the three-hour hearing, the defendant denied the allegations.

“I had no interaction with her. I did not do what you are saying,” he said.

The defendant said he did not know why the teenager had struck him and that he did not ask her why.

“It didn’t bother me. I didn’t ask why, I just walked away. She was just a child, I let it go” he said.

Sgt Cronin put it to the witness it was “bizarre, unusual and totally unbelievable,” that he did not ask why she had hit him.

Later he put it to the defendant that he had deliberately touched the victim’s breast and bottom.

”No I did not,” he replied.

Convicting the defendant Judge Keane said she was satisfied the victim’s behaviour was “a reaction to inappropriate behaviour from an adult”.

She said in the context of the victim’s age and her “challenges in life” she was satisfied the actions of the accused amounted to an indecent assault.

Imposing sentence she said the victim’s age and mental capacity were aggravating factors which she had to consider.

While noting that the accused man was in a position of trust, she accepted that his personal circumstances are difficult.

A three month prison sentence was imposed but this was suspended on condition he keeps the peace for two years.

The judge ordered the defendant’s name be placed on the register of sexual offenders for a period of five years.