A farm labourer who sexually defiled the 14-year-old daughter of his employer hundreds of times has been jailed for 8½ years.
Justice Karen O’Connor said the 30-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, effectively groomed the child into thinking they were in a romantic relationship.
The judge said there was evidence of controlling and degrading behaviour carried out by the man, who was aged 28 to 29 at the time.
He induced the child to take personally intimate photographs and used coercion to control her, putting pressure on her to text him while she was at school and trying to control her online interactions with friends, the judge said.
In a victim impact report, the schoolgirl said, “I thought I liked him; I think I fell in love. I didn’t want to lose him but then I knew he was toxic and controlling”.
The judge said the abuse had had a devastating effect on the child, who placed her concerns about getting caught and into trouble above her “desperate need to get help”.
“She knew it was toxic and didn’t know how to end it,” she said. The court heard the child began self-harming and tried to overdose.
The offending came to light when the child’s father noticed her mobile phone bill had gone from the normal €50 to €106 and that there were an “inordinate amount” of texts and calls from the accused.
The child admitted to her father she had kissed the man and her father fired the accused on the spot. Some time later, the child confessed to her father that they had sexual intercourse.
The defendant pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of defilement of a child under the age of 15 and three counts of the distinct offence of defilement of a child under the age of 17. The charges are sample counts of the overall offending over an 11-month period from August 2020 to July 2021.
The court heard the girl had been at home because schools were closed due to Covid-19 and she was on the farm yard more than usual and saw the accused as a friend. The man was aged 28 when he first initiated sexual contact with the girl in the form of kissing and touching her.
She was still aged 14 when he had sex with her and he continued having sex with her on an almost daily basis until the offending came to light.
The girl told Garda specialist interviewers that she and the man had sexual intercourse “hundreds of times” and on a nearly-daily basis.
Seamus Clarke SC, defending, told the court that the man, a foreign national, came from a culture where girls as young as 13 began sexual activity with men and were married as young as 15.
He said his client was a hard-working father of three and the family will suffer financial hardship endured as a result of the breadwinner going into custody. He has no other criminal convictions.
Justice O’Connor noted that the man’s guilty pleas were “of huge assistance” to the victim. She said the victim showed huge courage and by speaking out she may help others to “find their voice”.
She imposed a sentence of nine years and three months. She suspended the final nine months on condition that the man stay under Probation Service supervision for a year and make himself available for sex offender treatment.
The sentence was backdated to November 1st, 2021 when the man was first arrested and charged. He has been in custody since.