Man jailed for sexual exploitation of teenager with autism

Dahesh Patel (56) had denied charge of molesting boy in toilet of Cork shopping centre


A 56-year-old man has been jailed for two and a half years for sexually exploiting a 16-year-old boy with autism by performing a sex act on him in the toilet of a shopping centre in Cork.

Dahesh Patel had denied the charge of sexually exploiting the teenager in the toilet on June 21st, 2015, but the jury took less than one hour to find him guilty of the offence.

On Monday, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Seán Ó Donnabhain noted Patel, of Dillon’s Court, Dillon’s Cross, Cork, had not only denied the charge but had accused gardaí of trying “to stitch him up”.

During the trial, the victim gave evidence by video link of how he was standing at a urinal in the toilet when Patel, who was at another urinal, approached him.

“I was under the impression I needed a pee. The man just stared at me and nothing was happening. He said, ‘we can make it happen’ and he grabbed my private and he claimed he was trying to help.

“That really confused me – what is he doing, and then he said, ‘do you want some more’ and I said, ‘no thanks’ and he left,” said the boy, who denied under cross-examination that he was lying.

CCTV footage

The boy told his mother, who reported the matter to gardaí, who were able to gather CCTV footage from the shopping centre and were able to identify Patel as the man entering the toilet after the boy.

When he was arrested, Patel admitted he was the man on the CCTV tape but denied he was involved in any incident with the boy. He accused gardaí of trying “to stitch him up”.

The boy’s mother outlined in a victim impact statement how he had been diagnosed with autism at the age of four years and nine months, with both intellectual and verbal understanding delays.

She said that when Patel had sexually molested her son, he would definitely have been able to tell that her son was vulnerable and to hear him blame everyone else during the trial was outrageous.

She said her son initially had only a slight understanding that he had been molested, but, whenever they tried to speak to him about the incident, he became very upset and angry.

“Since the trial, his behaviour has regressed and he has started self-harming again which he has not done for six years and he says he hates himself and wishes he was dead,” said the woman.

“He repeatedly asks if Dahesh Patel is really in prison as he doesn’t want that to happen to anyone else. He won’t get up in the morning and when asked why, he says because he is so upset.

‘Images of men’

“I have found hundreds of drawings under his bed, featuring pen-drawn images of men, all labelled ‘paedos’ but he refuses to talk to us about these,” she said.

Patel’s counsel, Mary Rose Gearty, said her client had been seen by a clinical psychiatrist, Dr Seán Ó Domhnaill, and, working with him, he had come to accept that he molested the boy.

She also pointed out Patel also had alcohol addiction and he was on his way to buy vodka in the shopping centre on the day when he encountered the boy in the toilet and molested him.

She said Patel had handed over €10,000, without prejudice, to the boy’s solicitor to help pay for counselling sessions to help him deal with the consequences of the molestation.

Judge Ó Donnabhain said it was a very serious offence and it was only since working with Dr Ó Domhnaill that Patel accepted what he had done and expressed any remorse for his actions.

“This was an opportunistic offence where the accused took advantage of a vulnerable young man – I believe Patel was aware of the boy’s development difficulties at an early stage of their interaction.”

What Patel had done could only be described as “depraved”, he said as he sentenced him to five years in jail with half suspended on condition he get treatment for his alcoholism upon release.