By Fiona Ferguson
A Bulgarian circus worker will be sentenced later this month for the defilement of a 15-year-old girl in Co Cork.
Ivan Peev (34) pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to defilement of the girl in a Co Cork town on a date in February 2015. The court heard that at the time Peev's work involved travelling with a circus for nine months of the year and then returning to Bulgaria to his family.
The young girl told gardai she had been “pissed” and “three quarters asleep” at the time Peev had brought her to a tent or caravan. She described falling over and said the accused man lifted her onto a bed, undressed her and had sex with her.
The girl said in her victim impact statement that she thinks about what happened to her as a 15-year-old and feels like screaming but can't get it out. She said it was a “bad feeling” to see Peev again in court and it brought everything back.
Peev, formerly with an address at Stoney Lane, Rathcoole, Co Dublin has been in custody since being returned to Ireland from Bulgaria on foot of a European Arrest Warrant. He has no previous convictions.
Mr Justice Michael White said he wished to have some time to consider the case and remanded Peev in continuing custody until July 30th next when he will finalise sentence.
A prosecuting garda told Paul Murray SC, prosecuting, that a circus was visiting the town at the time of the offence. The victim and her friend had got a man to buy them drink from a local shop.
The girls drank the vodka outside the shop and were laughing and lying on the ground. A man from the circus called them over and they decided to go. The girls went into a tent or caravan and saw a number of men inside.
The men asked their names and ages and the victim's friend answered, telling the men they were 18 and 19 years old. At one stage the men said to the girls that they were actually only about 15 or 16 years old, but the girls maintained they were 18 or 19.
The girls were chatting, smoking and drinking with the men. The victim told gardai that she was “pissed.” Her friend left with one of the men and the victim said another man walked her out to a tent or caravan and she was so “pissed” that she just went.
She said this was not one of the men who had bought them drink or called them over to the circus.
The victim said she fell and the man lifted her into bed. She said she was “three quarters asleep” and was so drunk the man was able to take off all of her clothes. She said the man had sex with her.
The girl said she was “totally mouldy” and falling asleep. She told the man to get off her at one stage but he kept going. She was not sure if the man ejaculated and they got dressed afterwards.
She then went to meet her friend whom she had heard outside. A passer-by met the girls and brought them to a local garda station. The victim disclosed she had unprotected sex.
Peev initially denied anything had happened. He later said they had got undressed and sex had been about to happen but he was told to stop and it did not happen.
Gardai received directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions in March 2016 but Peev had left the country. He went back to Bulgaria and was arrested on foot of a European arrest warrant before being returned to Ireland last November. He pleaded guilty to this offence in June.
The garda agreed with defence counsel that the girls had been seen approaching the circus at 9.45pm and seen again outside on the street at 11.30pm. She agreed the guilty plea was in ease of the victim.
The garda agreed that this conviction would be a “considerable obstacle” to working in the circus particularly in this country.
The victim outlined in her statement, which was read to the court, that it had been hard to go to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit even though they were very good to her. She said she felt ashamed.
Defence counsel for Peev submitted that the guilty plea had been of particular value and Peev did not put the complainant to the test to see if she was prepared to go through the ordeal of a trial.
She said the accused was a foreign national and would have a difficult time serving a sentence. She said he wishes to return to his own country to his family after serving his sentence.
Counsel said cultural issues may have had some role in the offence but said she had no more than a speculative basis for that submission.