No jail for young man who sexually assaulted girl, 14, he met through Snapchat

The defendant was a friend of the 14-year-old girl's elder sister
No jail for young man who sexually assaulted girl, 14, he met through Snapchat

The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to three charges arising out of the matter at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. File photo

A 14-year-old girl met her elder sister’s 19-year-old friend through Snapchat and he brought her to a secluded seaside area in his car where he sexually assaulted her.

The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to three charges arising out of the matter at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. He confessed to sexual assault, inciting a child to touch his body and communicating with a child and then meeting her for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin gave him a two-year suspended sentence.

There was an order that nothing could be published that would identify the victim. Detective Garda Linda Lyons who investigated the case agreed that identifying the defendant could identify the injured party.

Det. Garda Lyons said that on December 4, 2018, when the injured party was 14 years old she met the accused when he was 19.

While the defendant knew the victim’s sister, it was through Snapchat that he made the arrangements with the 14-year-old to meet. There was no question of him not being aware of the injured party’s age as he had wished her a happy birthday when she turned 14.

On this day in December he brought her to an isolated spot by the seaside, Det. Garda Lyons said. The detective outlined how the defendant had touched her sexually.

DNA analysis was carried out on semen on her leg and clothing as part of the investigation.

Det. Garda Lyons said the 19-year-old asked her to have sexual intercourse with him and when she said she did not want to do so it did not go any further.

The search for the defendant

The accused later went to the UK and gardaí made enquiries through Interpol to locate him. They established a UK address but later learned that he had come home to Ireland during the Summer.

Gardaí called to his home and after several times knocking on the door his mother said he was not there. However, they found him that day – July 19, 2020 – hiding in an alcove of the sitting room in an effort to evade gardaí.

After that evasion he then co-operated with gardaí and ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges. He had no previous conviction.

"No element of harassment"

Elizabeth O’Connell, defence senior counsel, said there was nothing sinister about the manner in which the parties met as he had been friends with her sister and that was the connection. 

Ms O’Connell said that as soon as the injured party said she would not be comfortable with sexual intercourse the incident stopped immediately. “Both parties dressed immediately and that was the end of it,” she said.

Ms O’Connell added that there was no element of harassment, violence or intimidation and that when talk of the incident first came up at the injured party’s home with her family, she “stood up for” the defendant. The detective agreed but also said the injured party was distressed.

Ms O’Connell said the defendant was very sincerely remorseful for what occurred.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “This was a significant insult to this young woman. There was a significant difference in age. She was just 14, he was 19. He was an adult, she was a child.” The judge imposed a two-year suspended jail term at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

At one stage after he was charged with the offences, the defendant spent one month remanded in custody.

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