A man has been found guilty of the defilement of a child with whom he claimed he was in an arranged marriage.
The 22-year-old Clare man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty to defilement of a child at a guesthouse in Ennis, Co Clare between July 11 and 12, 2010.
A jury of seven men and five women took just under four hours to find him guilty. Judge Mary Ellen Ring remanded him in custody to appear before her later this month for sentencing.
The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard evidence that the man drove the 16-year-old girl to a guesthouse in Clare and had sex with her.
The accused claimed that he thought she was aged 19 and that she had agreed to marry him after two earlier meetings.
He told prosecuting counsel, Martina Baxter BL, that he planned to go with her to the Bishop of Offaly, named in court as Fr. Cox, because he was “sympathetic to these quick marriages”.
Giving evidence via video link the victim denied agreeing to marry the man and said that he had destroyed her life.
She said that after the sex she told him that she would marry him in six months if he took her home because she was terrified.
She said: “All I wanted to do was go home to my mother and father.”
She said the man told her to act normal and “pretend nothing happened”. He told her to tell his own family that she told him that she was 16 and a half years of age.
He told her not to let anyone take her clothes. The victim told the jury that she was scared in his presence and was putting on a brave face because of her discomfort.
The accused said that on the night he and the girl were on a bed kissing and that “one thing led to another” and they agreed to have sex.
Ms Baxter put it to him that what actually happened was he ordered the victim to take off her clothes and he threw himself on top of her.
Counsel said that the victim was upset and told him to get off her. She said that she lay there sobbing in bed and was too scared to leave.
He denied this and said he wouldn’t have gone off with the girl if he knew she was under 17 years of age.