Sex assault case against teen with 'intellectual difficulties' dismissed

A judge has dismissed the case against a teenager suffering from “severe intellectual difficulties” who was accused of sexually assaulting two girls, on the grounds that he did not understand his actions.

The youth now aged 19 has been charged at the Children’s Court with sexual assault of two teenage girls, in north Dublin, on dates in 2006 and 2007, when he was aged 17, a juvenile.

During the case the youth, who was accompanied by his parents, also described has having “severe difficulties” in relation to understanding, the youth had been clutching a small stuffed toy.

At times he had it in held in his mouth by his teeth and in the middle of the hearing the court had to take a 15 minute recess after he broke down uncontrollably in tears.

Defence solicitor Catherine Ghent said the defendant had “severe intellectual difficulties”.

Due to his problems he was not able to provide legal instructions.

“The situation is that there is a question over his capacity to plead. I have a psychiatric report which says he cannot give instructions to a solicitor,” Ms Ghent said.

The defence would be conducted on the basis that the teen was “mute of malice”, meaning diminished responsibility.

In evidence the court heard statements made by two schoolgirls in their late teens.

One girl told gardaí she was walking home from school when the teenager stopped to talk to her. He repeatedly began to kiss her while she tried to push him away. He followed her home and along the way continued to try and kiss and hug her. She told gardaí the incident left her frightened.

The second alleged assault happened three months later when another girl complained that the youth had followed her and repeatedly attempted to hug and kiss her. She fell to the ground at which he lay on top of her and “tried to open my trousers”.

She also told gardaí that the accused tried to pull off her trousers and put his hand down them.

When questioned by gardaí, the teenager, who is being treated in a unit for people with intellectual problems, said he was sorry and would not do it again.

He told a Garda that he thought one of the girls would want “to ride him” and become his girlfriend.

This belief was based on the fact that the victims had talked to him when he first approached and tried to make conversation with them.

The court was told that one Garda who questioned the youth believed he did not understand the ramifications of his actions.

Ms Ghent argued for a dismissal saying the State had not established and intent by the teenager to assault the girls.

Judge McMahon said the point made by the defence was whether the men's intent was present in this matter. He said that one garda who interview the teen felt he did not “know what was going on”.

He said he was accepting the defence submission and dismissed the case.

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