A man has been spared a jail term for having sex with a girl he met on a social networking website when he was 19 and she was 14. He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four counts of defilement of the girl between January 1st, 2011, and May 7th, 2011.
The court heard the man, now 21, who cannot be named for legal reasons, contacted the girl on the social networking site Bebo by sending her a friend request. Garda Peter Kenny told Gerardine Small, prosecuting, the girl asked who it was, and he said he was a “randomer”.
They then started texting each other and when he asked her age she said she was 16 and he claimed to be 18. They continued texting, then she and a friend went to meet him. She later went back to the man’s house with him where they had intercourse.
On May 9th, 2011, the girl went to a Garda station with her mother and made a statement of complaint.
The man was arrested on June 23rd, 2011, and made admissions immediately saying the girl had told him she was 16, which he thought was the age of consent. The court heard he had no previous convictions and had now been registered as a sex offender.
Under cross-examination by Sean Gillane SC, defending, Garda Kenny agreed the man was remorseful and pleaded guilty at an early stage.
A character witness said the man had a difficult upbringing and his family situation had broken down. Mr Gillane said his client was subject to serious deprivation but he worked to put himself through college.
He said his client thought 16 was the age of consent but accepted he had broken the law and suggested that being on the sex offenders' register was punishment in itself. Judge Patricia Ryan gave him a three-year suspended jail term, on condition he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years. The man was instructed to comply with probation services for 18 months, to have no contact with the victim or her family, and address his unresolved psychological problems.