A judge has described a victim impact statement warning of the dangers of social media by a 13-year-old boy who was sexually assaulted by a 25-year-old man he met on Facebook as the most eloquent he had ever heard.
Judge Donagh McDonagh imposed a three-year, suspended sentence on Colin Wool, of Silversprings Lawn, Mayfield, for sexual assaulting the teenager in his car when parked at the Atlantic Pond in Cork on various dates between July and October 2011 when the victim was aged 13/14.
Garda David Noonan read the victim’s impact statement: “I first had contact with Colin Wool on Facebook when I was 13. He knew my age because he asked me. I just wanted to have lots of friends on Facebook but I never realised how much my life could change or the terrible things that could happen to me. After a while, Colin Wool asked me to meet him.
“I got caught up with it all and didn’t know how to stop it. I became very angry and moody and didn’t understand why. I was afraid to tell my parents because I thought they would blame me. I was very embarrassed when my family discovered what was happening but I was also very relieved because I knew what was happening with Colin Wool would stop.
“My parents took me straight to the guards. At first I was very distressed but now I am glad because it all stopped and I realise it could have been a lot worse for me.”
The victim and his family had counselling, but he does not feel safe around older men, and can not tell his best friend. “I have to carry this secret for the rest of my life and I don’t know how I’ll feel about it when I’m an adult,” he said.
“It has taken my parents a long time to trust me again and they still check my phone and won’t allow me to use the computer unless it’s for school or they know exactly what I’m doing on it. I don’t mind this though, because I feel safe.
“My parents always took very good care of me and always knew where I was and who I was with, but they didn’t know that Colin Wool had crept into my life through Facebook. I realise now how vulnerable young people can be taken in by what adults say to them on Facebook. I can’t wait to see Colin Wool punished and I keep telling myself that once the court case is over I can try to start putting this behind me. I know this [reporting to gardaí] was the right thing to do.
“It might help prevent what happened to me happening to someone else.”
The victim’s mother had spotted sexually explicit texts on her son’s phone.
In the course of several meetings in Wool’s car, the defendant put his hand down the boy’s pants and masturbated him, but not to the point of ejaculation.
Wool, who was 25 at the time, apologised to the injured party through his senior counsel, Tom Creed. He said in a letter that he apologised to the victim and his family. “I know an apology is not enough,” he said. “I want you to know how sorry I am that I hurt you. I know I did wrong. I was the adult in the situation.
“I let myself and my family down. More importantly, I let myself down.
Wool’s psychiatrist said he had become suicidal since the crime. The defendant said he was a homosexual but strenuously denied being a paedophile.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved