Conor O’Keefe, aged 26, set up a profile as a 13-year-old girl called ‘Julie’ on Tagged.com and started chatting with the 15-year-old victim. He later claimed he was Julie’s older brother ‘Adam’ and persuaded the girl to get a taxi to his house in the early hours of the morning where they had sex.
O’Keefe, of Oakdale Close, Ballycullen, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sex with a child in June 2011 and not guilty to sexual exploitation. He was found guilty by a jury following a three-day trial.
O’Keefe admitted having sex with the girl and the trial revolved around whether he had groomed the girl beforehand.
Following conviction, the defence asked that O’Keefe be allowed remain on bail so he could sit his exams as part of his plumbers apprenticeship. Counsel added that he was expecting a child next month with his partner.
Judge Sarah Berkeley agreed to bail for a short time to get his affairs in order, but that she did not see a situation where he wouldn’t be going to prison. She set a sentence date of November 20.
All of the factual evidence was agreed between the prosecution and defence and the sole issue for the jury was if O’Keefe intended having sex with the girl when he communicated with her.
The Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2007 states that a person is guilty of an offence if they communicate with a child on two or more occasions with the intention of meeting them for sexual exploitation.
Damien Colgan, defending, told jurors the prosecution was asking them to second guess what was going on in the mind of O’Keefe. He said in this case there were no emails or correspondence to say anything of a sexual nature was spoken between the parties.
O’Keefe admitted to gardaí that he set up the profile of ‘Julia’ so he could view the under-18s version of the site, the trial heard.
The victim made contact with the fake profile and the two chatted. ‘Julia’ told the girl she had a 22-year-old brother called Adam who had a car and asked if she would be interested in meeting him. The girl told ‘Julia’ she was only 15.
O’Keefe later spoke to the girl as Adam using the Julia account. He emailed her a picture of himself using an email address containing his real name.
Early one morning O’Keefe asked the girl to come over to his house. He told her to get a taxi and he would pay for it.
When she arrived she said he began “bugging” her about giving him oral sex. He told her she’d have to agree to do something. The girl agreed to have sex with him.