Suspended sentences for teens who had sex with autistic girl, 14

Two Dublin teenagers who had sexual intercourse with an autistic girl in a bush have received fully suspended sentences.

The two men (19), who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to defilement of a child under the age of 15 on January 25, 2016.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott sentenced both men to 18 months imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentences for two years on a number of strict conditions including that they not directly or indirectly contact the victim in this case.

A local garda told Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, that the two men, who were aged 16 and 15 on the date in question, were playing a video game along with a younger boy who arranged to meet with the victim, who was aged 14 years at the time.

The two accused met with the victim along with the younger boy and three other teenage boys. The group went to a nearby field where the younger boy and the victim went into a bush and engaged in sexual activity.

After the younger boy emerged from the bush, the two accused were goaded by the other three teenage boys. Both accused were called a “faggot” and were encouraged to go into the bush themselves.

Both accused went separately into the bush and had sex with the victim. She was wearing her school uniform and neither accused wore a condom.

The two accused were interviewed by gardaí the following day after voluntarily presenting themselves at the station. The older of the two accused men told gardaí that the victim did not say anything during the intercourse and that he stopped as it did not feel right.

The older accused man said after the encounter the victim referred to herself as a prostitute and said she was going to hang herself. He thought that the victim might suffer from mental difficulties as a result of these comments.

The local garda said that the victim had been diagnosed with autism, ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder. He accepted that there was no evidence that either accused were aware of this prior to the encounter or that they were aware of her age.

He said that there was no evidence that force was used during the incident.

In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court, the girl said that she had taken a lot of hot showers as she felt dirty and that the incident made her feel worthless. She said she felt unsafe and that everyone was against her and going to hurt her.

She said she had learned to get past her trauma and that she no longer had much social anxiety.

Neither accused had any convictions prior to the incident, but in the intervening period since the incident, the older man has been convicted for possession of cannabis and the younger man has been convicted for theft and road traffic offences.

Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending the older man, said his client's understanding of the word “faggot” was that it was like being called a coward. He said his client had difficulty leaving the house for a period of time after the incident and he was ashamed of what he had done.

Caroline Biggs, SC, defending the younger man, said both her client's parents had struggled with addiction issues and that he himself had a history of misusing drugs. The court heard that the man is now a parent himself.

Mr Justice McDermott said the offence was aggravated by the then teenage boys being satisfied to engage in sexual intercourse with a young girl in a public area, that neither accused thought about her humiliation and that neither thought the unusual nature of three boys going “back to back” was wrong.

He said the offence took place in the “disturbing context” that the other three teenagers in the group of six boys were happy to goad the others into engaging in sexual activity rather than intervene.

Mr Justice McDermott said the offence was mitigated by both accused making pleas of guilty at the first opportunity, that both promptly made admissions to gardaí within 24 hours of the incident and that both were young teenagers at the time.

He said that the youth of both men was clearly accompanied by recklessness and an inability to understand the full effect on the young girl or how young girls should be treated. He said he was not satisfied the two men fully understood the gravity of their behaviour.

Mr Justice McDermott said the considerable progress the victim had made since the incident was a testimony to the strength of her character and described her as being “a very impressive young lady”.

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