A WEXFORD man was declared a sex offender and sentenced to 18 months in jail yesterday for an “illicit, passionate” kiss on a 14-year-old girl.
Nicholas Barry, aged 31, was convicted in May at the Central Criminal Court of sexually assaulting the girl, but not guilty of raping her on November 25, 2006.
Barry, of Corach Avenue, Wellingtonbridge, had pleaded not guilty to both charges. He had told gardaí that “all that happened was that ‘I shifted’ her”, but admitted he knew she was only 14 at the time.
“Yes, it was a big mistake and I’m sorry I did it. I’m sorry it happened. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.”
Sentencing Barry, Mr Justice Paul Carney said he found it a “most difficult case” and said sentencing was about proportionality.
“On the one hand this case concerns an illicit kiss, albeit a passionate one and, on the other hand, I’m concerned about protecting a 14-year-old girl from sexual exploitation.”
He said the accused admitted to a lifestyle which included taking 14 pints in combination with cannabis.
“It has been the experience of this court that that sort of lifestyle leads people of good background to leave home with no evil intent to actions which lead them to this court.”
This included sexual assault and homicides. In such cases, the courts had little interest in showing mercy.
Mr Justice Carney said the DPP had agreed that the physical activity was at the lowest end of the scale.
The DPP had submitted that the age of the victim was an aggravating factor, as was the disparity of the ages and the breach of trust.
The defendant had no relevant convictions and had shown “genuine remorse” and that he was successful in the trial for the rape charge.
He also had to take into account the effect on the victim. He said Barry had “adverted to the age of the victim and went ahead notwithstanding”.
Balancing all these factors, Mr Justice Carney sentenced Barry to 18 months and declared him a sex offender as required by law.
In an impact statement, the victim said she had constant flashbacks, had difficulty sleeping and was afraid to go out in case she saw Barry or members of his family who gave her “evil looks”.
She had agreed with John O’Kelly, defending, at the trial that she was aware Barry had been beaten up by her father and another of her relatives.
She had also agreed she knew he received threats that he would be “knee- capped” unless he pleaded guilty to raping her but she denied she knew was making what counsel called “silent phone-calls” to him.
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