Suspended sentence for underage sex

Wed, Jul 18, 2012, 01:00

A 21-YEAR-OLD man has been sentenced to six months in prison with his sentence suspended after admitting he had sex with a girl when they were both teenagers.

The man, from Co Donegal, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday.

The young man admitted he had sex with the girl but insisted it was by consent.

He was charged with the defilement of a child and pleaded guilty to the offence.

The incident took place at a vacant house in 2006. The girl was 14 years of age at the time while the man was then 15.

The court heard how the accused and another two boys and two girls entered the house after a céilí on August 5th, 2006.

The girl admitted she took part in various acts of intimacy but denies she ever consented to full sex with the boy.

Gardaí were informed of the incident when another girl told her father about it and he in turn informed the local school principal.

The court heard the young man had admitted to defiling the girl but claimed the sex was consensual.

The girl had suffered from depression as a result of the incident and was on medication, the court heard.

Barristers for the young man said that the case had been hanging over him for six years as appeals were made to both the High Court and the Supreme Court.

The case attracted much notoriety and became known as the “Romeo and Juliet case” because the law allows the prosecution of teenage boys for having sex with teenage girls but prevents prosecution of girls.

Judge John O’Hagan said the case involved a couple of youngsters who got together and their hormones ran away with them. He said the Oireachtas had clearly recognised this was not a “sexual predator” type crime.

The judge said perhaps he was too old to answer some of the questions thrown up by the case before him.

“The circumstances surrounding how it happened are quite different than perhaps what some of we older generation might have experienced,” he said.

“Young people have different views about experimenting with their bodies,” he said.

He added he was not in any way blaming the young girl or suggesting that she did anything wrong.

“On the other hand I am not suggesting did anything wrong in the heat of the circumstances of the moment,” he said.

The judge said he had no plans to impose a custodial sentence on the young man.

Instead he sentenced the man to six months in prison and suspended the term for a period of 12 months.

The young man’s mother wept in court as the sentence was passed down.