A Cavan sex offender has been jailed for five years for the sexual assault and defilement of a 14-year-old boy he met following contact through a website.
Michael Galligan (aged 40), who is on the sex offenders register, has four previous convictions including one for sexual assault and one for a breach of the Sex Offenders Act.
Galligan, with an address at Springfield, Cavan, Co Cavan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court guilty to three counts of defilement of a child under the age of 15 years old and two counts of sexual assault of the boy on dates in 2015. He has been in custody since 2015.
The court heard the child had gone on to a particular website and indicated he was 18 years old.
The prosecuting garda told Orla Crowe SC, prosecuting, that following online contact Galligan and the boy met on three dates during 2015 when the offences occurred. She said that the boy had been wearing his school uniform on the second occasion he met Galligan.
She said that the boy's family became aware of mobile phone contact and the gardaí were alerted.
Judge Martin Nolan said Galligan should have known the age of the boy after the first meeting. He said part of the law was to “protect 14-year olds from themselves” and said Galligan knew what he was doing was seriously wrong.
Judge Nolan imposed a seven-year sentence and suspended the final two years on strict conditions.
The garda said the investigation involving technical evidence and mobile contact had been quite complex. Galligan was interviewed and ultimately made admissions in relation to these charges.
The court heard the boy did not wish to make a victim impact statement and was endeavouring to move on with his life. The garda said during her evidence that the boy had been frightened, distressed and felt worthless during the offending.
The garda agreed with defence counsel, Patrick McGrath SC, that the boy had made first contact with Galligan.
Mr McGrath said this was not a case where Galligan had gone out looking for an under-age child but accepted that once he met the child he knew he was under-age.
Mr McGrath handed in letters from Galligan to the injured party and the court. He said Galligan accepted what he had done was wrong and that he should have walked away from the situation. He accepted that he had caused injury to this young man.
Counsel said that Galligan had begun to engage with psychiatric services in prison to deal with his problems and difficulties. He handed in a report outlining Galligan's personal history and difficulties coming to terms with his own sexuality. He had attended for counselling.
He asked the court to take into account his client's admissions and early guilty plea. He said there were no threats or violence involved. He asked the court to be as lenient as possible.