A teenage boy whose own mother took him to gardaí after she learned he had repeatedly raped his eight-year-old nephew has been given a two-year suspended sentence.
The boy was 15 when he got his nephew to perform oral sex on him while the two played computer video games in his home in the Midlands.
The Central Criminal Court heard evidence that in September 2017 the victim's mother became distraught when her son told her about the abuse.
She contacted her own mother who confronted her son. He initially denied the offending but over time admitted he had repeatedly abused his nephew during the previous three months.
His lawyer Michael Bowman SC told the court, at an earlier sentence hearing last July, that his client was exposed to adult pornography on his smartphone and this exacerbated his social isolation and inability to form age-appropriate relationship.
He said the boy's mother has since confiscated the phone and he is now allowed only supervised use of it. A report from psychiatrist Dr Mark Fitzpatrick contains recommendations on how to supervise his access to social media and the internet, he said.
A Probation Services report assessed the risk of him engaging in sexually harmful behaviour again as low. Mr Bowman said the boy was socially and emotionally immature and was bullied at secondary school.
He became withdrawn and socially isolated and turned to the company of computer games and was then exposed to pornography on his smartphone, counsel said.
The now 18-year-old, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty to sample counts of oral and anal rape on dates between June and September 2017. He also pleaded guilty to inviting or inciting a child to sexual touching.
Mr Justice Michael White noted at the hearing last year that the Children Act prohibits a court from imposing detention on a child unless it is the only suitable way of dealing with a child. He said detention is not the only way of dealing with this accused.
He deferred the imposition of a period of detention of three years and ordered that the boy be placed under the supervision of a probation and welfare officer. He said the boy must comply with any conditions set by the Probation Service.
He told the defendant that these were serious offences and he commended his mother for taking the very courageous step of bringing him to gardaí when the offending emerged.
Today, Mr Justice White heard that an updated probation report noted that the teenager had continued to engage with Dr Fitzpatrick but was discharged last January. The probation report also outlined that the teenager had engaged fully with its service.
Mr Justice White imposed a two-year sentence which he suspended in full on strict conditions including that he be of peace and be of good behaviour for two years.
He noted that the teenager and his mother have since left Ireland and plan to live abroad for the foreseeable feature. He advised the mother and the teenager, who were present in court via video link, that the police authorities there will notify gardaí if the teenager comes to their attention and this will be a breach of the condition of the suspension of his sentence.
An additional condition of the suspension of the sentence is that the teenager and his nephew be supervised at all times during family gatherings and that any plans to visit his sister and nephew in Ireland be notified to the gardaí here.
The gardaí must also be notified of any plans of the victim and his mother to visit them abroad and the child and his mother must not stay in the teenager's family home.
At the conclusion of the sentence hearing today, the victim's father acknowledged, from the body of the court, that the child's grandmother has stood by his son and said it breaks his heart that she can no longer have a normal relationship with the child.
The court heard that in September 2017 the victim asked his mother if he could tell her something by writing it down because he didn't want to say it.
He wrote a note stating that “while [my uncle] is babysitting me he makes me suck his private parts”. His mother became very upset and was crying and rang the defendant's mother.
The defendant said at first he didn't understand the allegations and suggested the victim had dreamt it.
When interviewed by specialist gardaí, the victim said his uncle “makes me feel very sad and frightened” and “he was really mean to me”.
He said that the teenager told him that the number of “kills” his uncle got on the Xbox game they were playing would be “how many times he would get me to suck his dick”.
“He made me afraid to tell anyone,” the child said.
In a victim impact statement, he said he sees his uncle everywhere and it makes him very sad.
“If it did not happen I would be happy,” he wrote.
Mr Bowman told the court that when confronted his client had immediately understood the consequences of his behaviour in his family. He became embarrassed and very distressed and talked about harming himself.
He said that the boy's family were inherently decent and a very private family and that they were devastated by these events. He said they all took the view that the right thing to do was to bring the abuse out into the open.
He said on discovering her son had wronged her grandson his client's mother knew this had to be brought to gardaí.
He said his client was bullied mercilessly at school. He said in a letter to the court the defendant apologised for what he had done and the hurt he had caused his sister and his nephew.
Counsel said the defendant wanted to get help now to figure out why he engaged in this behaviour and hoped that one day his nephew could forgive him.