A 30-year-old man facing charges of repeatedly raping two young girls in Athlone last September is to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court.
The accused man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was today sent forward for sentence by Judge Seamus Hughes at Athlone District Court.
He has admitted a total of five charges of raping the girls, aged 6 and 9.
The girls had been attending a birthday party in Athlone on September 28th and the alarm was raised when they were discovered to be missing. It later emerged that they had been raped at a nearby house.
The accused man has been on remand at Castlerea Prison since early October. At the request of his solicitor Gearoid Geraghty, he has been on suicide watch at the prison.
He has appeared on a number of occasions at Harristown District Court which adjoins Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon. Mr Geraghty confirmed to the court last month that his client was pleading guilty to all offences - three charges of raping one girl and two charges of raping the second child.
He also confirmed his client was waiving his right to the book of evidence and that the early pleas of guilty in the case were acceptable to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
There was an increased Garda presence at Athlone District Court as the accused man arrived for the hearing. He was escorted into the courtroom by two gardaí who remained alongside him in the space reserved for prisoners. Wearing denim jeans and a black sweater, he chatted to another prisoner alongside him while waiting for his case to be called.
State Solicitor for Co Westmeath, Peter Jones, told Judge Hughes that the defendant could be sent forward to the Central Criminal Court on signed pleas. The DPP had formally consented in writing.
Mr Geraghty confirmed that his client was pleading guilty to all five charges.
The accused man walked to the court clerk’s bench and formally signed the five pleas before returning to his seat.
Mr Jones formally applied to have him sent forward to the present sittings of the Central Criminal Court on the signed pleas. He also asked Judge Hughes to make an order for the injured parties and accused man not to be identified in media reports.
Mr Geraghty applied for legal aid for a junior and senior counsel to represent his client.
Judge Hughes made all the orders sought and inquired when sentencing was likely to take place.
Mr Geraghty informed him that he expected it would be finalised when the court next met to fix sentencing dates.
The defendant was escorted from the courtroom immediately afterwards and was transported back to prison. A handful of people shouted abuse as the Garda van left the courthouse.