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28/07/2021

Teenager who sexually assaulted 'friend' in Tipperary field has sentence deferred

Teenager who sexually assaulted 'friend' in Tipperary field has sentence deferred

The Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin

A teenage boy who sexually assaulted his friend in a field has had a sentence of two years’ detention deferred for one year.

The now 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was aged 15 when he sexually assaulted the then 14-year-old girl in a field after they had both consumed alcohol together.

He pleaded guilty before the Central Criminal Court to sexual assault at a location in County Tipperary on July 29, 2019. He has no previous convictions.

A local garda told John O'Kelly SC, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the accused boy and the girl agreed to meet and got somebody to buy alcohol for them.

The garda said they both consumed the alcohol in a field, which left them feeling “dizzy” and they both lay down. They started kissing and then the accused sexually assaulted the victim.

The accused admitted to touching the victim's genital area. He has not come to garda attention since the offence.

In her victim impact statement, which was read before the court by counsel, the victim said she trusted the accused a lot because he was her friend from their first year of secondary school and she does not think she will be able to trust anyone like that again.

She said she does not want him to get away with this or to do it to anyone else. She said that when she sees him and he looks at her, she feels intimidated by him.

“What I want most is to be able to move on and be able to feel safe again,” she said.

The garda agreed with Colman Cody SC, defending, that his client has complied with all his bail conditions, one of which is to not go near the victim. She agreed the accused has not said or done anything to put the victim in fear.

She agreed with counsel that his client made full admissions in interview with gardaí. She agreed the accused acknowledged what he had done was wrong and said he was sorry on a number of occasions during the interview.

Mr Cody said his instructions are the accused “unequivocally” accepts responsibility for what happened, that it should not have happened and that he took advantage of a friend.

Counsel said alcohol can have a very disinhibiting effect and impairs judgement, particularly in one as young as the accused. He said his client has shown himself to be “a very pleasant and productive member of society to date”.

Mr Cody urged the court to deal with this matter in a non-custodial way and said that detention had to be regarded as “the very last resort”.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Michael White said the nature and seriousness of the offence was an aggravating factor, along with the breach of trust and the effect on the victim.

Justice White said the accused’s co-operation with gardaí, his positive engagement with the local Garda Youth Diversion Programme, early plea, expressions of remorse and previous good character were mitigating factors.

He said he would apply a sentence of two years’ detention, deferred for one year on condition the boy attend all probation appointments, engage with the garda youth programme, and attend any course in sexual consent awareness recommended by his probation officer.

“He has to make sure he attends even though he’s in his Leaving Cert year” Justice White said. “That will put pressure on him but he has to do it.”

Justice White also ordered the accused to stay away from the victim.

“[She] is concerned about seeing you – you must be particularly careful,” he said, adding that the girl had seen a letter of apology from him and “does not accept it”.

“Unfortunately this is now on your record. It’s with you for life,” Justice White added as he adjourned the case to May 23, 2022.

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