A man who inappropriately touched a six-year-old child he was looking after while her mother was at work has been jailed for three years.
The man (aged 52), who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to committing a sexual act on a child and inviting a child to participate in a sexual act on dates unknown between May 20, 2018 and June 30, 2018.
A local garda told Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that the accused met the victim's mother on a dating app in 2017 approximately nine months before the offending behaviour began.
Two weeks after meeting the victim's mother, the man moved into the one-bedroom apartment she shared with her son and her daughter, the victim. She worked night shifts seven nights a week and the man looked after her daughter while she was at work.
The man slept on a couch in the flat on occasion, but when he was alone with the victim he would sleep in the same double bed as her. The victim's mother consented to the man bathing and showering her daughter.
On the last day of June in 2018, the victim told her mother that the man had touched her inappropriately. When confronted by the victim's mother about this, the man made certain admissions and apologised.
In interview with gardaí, he discussed four incidents that had occurred over the previous weeks. He said on four occasions he got the child to rub his penis up and down, but claimed he was not erect and did not ejaculate on any occasion.
The man also told gardaí he touched the child's vagina, smacked her bum and kissed her mouth. He said he did not recall getting aroused by these incidents and that it was a stupid thing to do which he now regrets. He has no previous convictions.
The garda agreed with Fiona Murphy SC, defending, that her client had suffered from depression in the past. He agreed that the man was currently looking after his elderly mother who is in ill health.
Ms Murphy said her client was “100% apologetic” and remorseful for his actions. She asked the court to consider a non-custodial sentence and said her client had done everything possible to minimise the distress of the victim since the “incidents have been completed”.
Judge Martin Nolan said the case was aggravated by the care of the child being in the man's hands and his abusing that trust. He said committing sexual assaults against a child was a serious and reprehensible matter.
Judge Nolan said the mitigating factors in the case were his guilty plea, his co-operation, his admissions, his lack of previous convictions and his taking care of his mother.
He sentenced the man to five years imprisonment, but suspended the final two years of the sentence on strict conditions including that the man place himself under the supervision of the Probation Service for two years post-release.