Teenager sexually assaulted by friend wants ‘to move on and be able to feel safe again’

Co Tipperary youth pleaded guilty over 2019 incident and had two year detention suspended

A teenage boy who sexually assaulted his friend in a field has had a sentence of two years detention suspended for 12 months on strict conditions.

The accused was 15 when the incident involving the then 14-year-old girl happened after they had consumed alcohol together. He pleaded guilty before the Central Criminal Court to sexual assault at a location in Co Tipperary on July 29th, 2019.

He is now aged 18 and has no other criminal convictions. He cannot be named to protect the identity of the complainant.

A local garda told John O’Kelly SC, prosecuting, that on the date in question the accused and the girl agreed to meet and got somebody to buy alcohol for them. The garda said they consumed the alcohol in a field, which left them feeling “dizzy” and they lay down.

They started kissing and then the accused sexually assaulted the victim. He later 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.

Intimidated

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.

“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 that 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 that 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 that 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”.

At a previous sentence hearing last July, 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.

Mitigating factors

Mr 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 further with the diversion 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,” Mr 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, 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.

The case was adjourned to Monday and when it came before Justice Paul McDermott he imposed the sentence indicated by Mr Justice White.