A High Court judge has said he is concerned about the number of cases of young children committing serious offences as a result of exposure to pornography on smartphones.
Mr Justice Micheal White made his comments while dealing with a case involving a boy who sexually exploited his two younger cousins.
The boy's lawyer told the Central Criminal Court that his client, now aged 17, had access to porn from a very young age.
The boy, who cannot be identified because he is still a minor, told gardaí he became obsessed with sex.
The court heard that he and his cousin, who is just over a year younger than him, began to engage in non-penetrative sexual contact when she was aged around nine and 10.
This behaviour continued from 2011 up to 2016. Shane Costelloe SC, prosecuting, told the court there was no suggestion of any force or coercion used in this behaviour. In relation to this behaviour the boy pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child on dates in 2015 at a place in Galway.
The court heard in early 2016 the girl told the defendant she wanted the sexual contact to stop. He sent her text messages saying he had pictures and video recordings of their previous sexual contact.
He told her he would disseminate these to her friends and others online if she didn't continue to have sex with him. After the offending came to light the girl told gardaí that she did have sex with him again because she was afraid of this threat.
After his arrest the boy told gardaí he had blackmailed her. He later pleaded guilty to rape of the girl in her bedroom on dates in January 2016.
The boy told gardaí that he had penetrative sex with a male cousin, who is four months younger than him, up to 10 times and that these were consensual.
The court heard that there was no coercion and that “at all times [the male cousin] was a consenting participant in so far as any child could consent”.
He pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child by inviting the child to take part in sexual activity on dates in 2015. Neither of the complainants completed a victim impact statement.
Mr Justice White adjourned the case to later this month for sentencing. He said this was the fourth case he has dealt with himself “where young children have committed the most serious offences...where the start was exposure to pornography on smartphones”.
“It is very serious and a matter of great concern.” he said. He said the offending the court is seeing “ goes way beyond consensual sexual experimentation”.