Sex predator used social network to trap teenage girls

A man in his 30s posed as a 16-year-old on the social network site Tagged.com to groom three teenage girls for sex, Trim Circuit Court heard yesterday.

Jerry Sheahan, aged 38, of Clare Hall Village, Malahide Rd, Dublin, pleaded guilty to charges of having sexual intercourse with the girls in three different counties on dates between Mar and Jul 2011 when the girls were aged 15 and 16.

Prosecuting Counsel, Carl Hanahoe said that Sheahan, who had been 36 years old at the time, set up a profile in the under-18 section of Tagged.com in 2011.

Sheahan, an area manager with Centra, posed as Conor W and listed his age as 16. He included a photograph of a teenage boy as part of his profile. He then contacted his victims who had also profiles on the website and asked them to text him, Det Garda Ray Andrews told the court.

When they did, he would text back asking who they were and their age. He would also say his name was Jerry, that he was not on Tagged.com and that he was 36.

Sheahan used text messages to build up contact with the girls before arranging to meet them.

He would meet them on several occasions and build up a relationship with them, which led to them having sexual intercourse in remote areas in the country or disused factory sites where he took them in his car, the court heard.

Sheahan had promised one of the girls a job when they first met and then drove her to a quiet location where she was asked to perform oral sex before they had intercourse. An hour later, he met her again and drove her to a remote area where they had intercourse again.

Sheahan’s offending came to light when a friend of one of the victims alerted the victim’s mother and the gardaí were contacted.

When Sheahan was first interviewed by gardaí he admitted knowing the girl but denied having sexual intercourse with her. He then contacted the gardaí 10 days later and admitted having intercourse with the under-17-year-old twice and also told gardaí about the other two victims.

One of the victims told gardaí she had been 15, going on 16, at the time and felt weak and vulnerable. She had felt uncomfortable about having intercourse but did not want to upset Sheahan. She added that her relationship with her parents had now changed, as they no longer trusted her.

A second said she felt he had taken advantage of her and added that the trust between herself and her parents was gone because of what had happened.

The third victim said she had gone off the rails and had been drinking heavily for several months after meeting Sheahan. She said, however, that she no longer drinks and no longer uses the internet.

A defence barrister said her client, who had a degree in music and philosophy, and who worked as an area manager with Centra accepted what he did was wrong and had undergone 230 hours of group psychotherapy.

“There is an aspect to him that is very ordinary, yet clearly there is another aspect that has caused so much damage to others — the girls and his own family and friends,” the lawyer said.

Judge Michael O Shea said Sheahan had acted as a predator for the sole purpose of having sexual intercourse. He said the effects on the girls who had been very young and vulnerable had been extremely serious.

The judge described the crimes as the “disgusting sexual violation and abuse of the three girls”.

Judge O’Shea said it was not a case for concurrent sentences, as the victims had been individually selected.

The judge imposed three consecutive sentences of two years’ each and jailed Sheahan for six.

Judge O’Shea also refused a defence application to consider suspending part of the sentence.


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