A four-year suspended jail term was imposed yesterday on a man with autism for sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “It is undoubtedly a worrying type of case.
“He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He came forward on a signed plea of guilty. All of that must have been a reassurance to the victim’s family, who were always aware there would not have to be a trial.
“The plea of guilty is a public acknowledgement that he is wrong, he is guilty and no blame attaches to anyone else.
“The victim appears to be doing OK. Her parents are full of worry about how the world would develop for the child. Events in the case were so singular that a repeat is very unlikely.
“The defendant is on the autistic spectrum. He is vulnerable and very naive and particularly inadequate in social settings.
“It is reported that he is of low risk of re-offending. He does have insight into the crime.
“He is remorseful. He has not come to the attention of gardaí since. He would be a bad candidate for custody.”
The offence was committed when the accused was aged 18.
Detective Sergeant Seán Leahy said that the offence occurred on April 13, 2016.
The injured party was being minded in the childminder’s home, he said.
The childminder left momentarily and left the five-year-old in the care of her 18-year-old son. The girl later told her mother what happened.
“She said he pulled down her underwear and pulled down his own underwear and touched her vagina,” Det Sgt Leahy said.
When gardaí approached the accused and questioned him, he was totally co-operative and gave details of what happened over and above what was described by the child.
The accused said to gardaí: “When you are around someone for so long, they are friends and you forget they are a child.”
Jane Hyland, defending, said that the accused had an autistic spectrum disorder. She added that he felt remorse, guilt, and shame and expressed that from the first moment.
Ms Hyland said that when gardaí asked him why did he panic, the accused replied: “Because I know what I did was wrong, I would be in so much trouble, I would go to jail I would disappoint everyone and I would hurt [girl’s name] as well.”
The girl’s mother gave a victim impact statement in which she said she got “this sick feeling” when the childminder telephoned her to say that she had to go somewhere and that her son would be minding the little girl for a short time.
“I think she is OK now,” she said. “It is only one year down the road. Based on other people’s experience, there might be some impact. She has not opened up about anything since.
“I have unashamedly lost trust in young teenage boys. It has been devastating. We do appreciate the guilty plea.”
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