Discrepanciesin sexual offences case forces delay in sentencing

Glaring discrepancies between the prosecution description of sexual offences at the centre of a case and the account given by the victim yesterday prevented the judge from proceeding to sentence the accused.

The accused, who was 19 at the time, and the victim, who was 16 years and 10 months, met via the internet site Tagged and ended up going out together for three months and having sex, Inspector Mary King told Judge Con O’Leary at Cork District Court on the basis of evidence in the garda file. The inspector went on to give further details of the offences.

The accused pleaded guilty two counts, that in May 2012 he engaged in a sexual act, namely the penetration of the mouth with the penis, with a child under 17, and secondly, in June 2012 he engaged in sexual intercourse with her. The girl was two months short of the legal age to have consensual sex.

Judge Con O’Leary adjourned sentencing until yesterday to allow time for the preparation of a victim impact statement or the appearance of the young woman in court or both.

As it happened she appeared in court with her mother and also accompanied by Mary Crilly, director of the Sexual Violence Centre, in Cork. The victim also prepared a written victim impact statement that was read by the judge, defence solicitor Frank Buttimer, and Insp King but it was not read openly in court.

“It seems to me quite different to what the inspector told me,” Judge O’Leary said. Mr Buttimer said it was also different to what the defendant was accused of doing.

Given the discrepancy the judge said he would have to adjourn sentencing until July 30.

“I cannot understand it, but maybe there are not any [discrepancies],” the judge said.

Mr Buttimer said: “No, there are, it is a glaring issue.”

Insp King said in relation to the victim report: “It was to have been prepared with the probation service but she prepared it on her own.”

Judge O’Leary said: “Where the case is going from here I don’t know. I will put it back for the guards to figure out what is the proper thing to do with the case.”

Insp King had previously told the court the two parties met each other via the social media site and went to the cinema together on a first date.

Insp King said the two people were in a relationship with each other for three months and they engaged in sexual acts on two occasions in the girl’s family home.

“She says she reluctantly engaged in the sexual acts with the defendant. It bothered her for a long time and she thought about it for a long time afterwards. She made the complaint two years later,” Insp King said.

Solicitor Emmet Boyle, for the defendant, had previously said in court: “The defendant and the injured party met through social media innocently enough. At first it was a meeting at the cinema. He was welcomed to her home. The first act of sexuality between she and he took place after about three months.

“There was a mutuality of meeting, messaging and communicating generally. There was meeting by design as opposed to cunning or anything of that nature.

“The first contact was at the home of the injured party as opposed to at his home. Her mother was upstairs. And there was a lack of disparity of age. He would have been 19, the injured party would have been two or three months off her 17th birthday.

“He gave a 21-page memo of interview to gardaí and answered every question and made inculpatory statements. He accepts he was reckless as regards her age.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions had indicated that unless there was a guilty plea it would be a matter for trial by judge and jury.


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