An 18-year-old man convicted of oral rape and sexual assault on a minor was sentenced to 42 months in prison, the last 21 months suspended.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted as a minor by a jury following a trial last February. He orally raped and sexually assaulted a then 16-year-old girl in a public park in west Dublin on January 17, 2020.
The man, autistic and a minor at the time of the crimes and during his trial, pleaded not guilty. He doesn’t accept the jury’s verdict, nor does his family.
Sentencing him on Wednesday, Judge Mary Ellen Ring said the primary sentence for the crimes was a five-year prison term.
However, given the man’s personal circumstances, including his autism, the lack of previous convictions and the sentence that would apply to him if he were still a child, she sentenced him to 42 months in prison, suspended sentence for the last 21 months.
Mrs. Justice Ring also sentenced him to 18 months for sexual assault, the sentence to be served alongside the sentence for oral rape.
She ordered that he undergo all the education and therapy offered to him while in detention and ordered him to keep order upon his release, under the supervision of the probation service, for the duration of the suspended sentence.
When the court clerk read the sentence to the man and asked if he understood, he said no and his defense lawyer, James Dwyer SC, stepped in to explain. When he shrugged, apparently indicating a lack of understanding, Mr Dwyer suggested things could be explained to him later.
There were rowdy scenes in the court after the sentencing and immediately outside the courtroom.
Relatives of the man, including his mother, swore and shouted abuse at the victim’s family as they spoke to prosecution lawyers. At an earlier hearing, a man was removed from court after a similar disruptive outburst.
At an earlier hearing, a Garda detective told Maurice Coffey SC, prosecuting, that on the evening in question the then 16-year-old girl had gone out with her sister and her friend. She had been drinking and they were joined by a large group of boys, some of whom they knew.
The detective said the victim left the group to meet her friend and, according to her, was “quite drunk” and had difficulty walking. The then 15-year-old accused, whom she did not know and who had been part of the group, offered to take her to her friend’s house and she refused.
He pulled her to come with him, she said she couldn’t walk and he said he would help her before he put his arms around her. He dragged her to a patch of grass, got more aggressive, and pushed her against a gate.
The accused then sexually assaulted and orally raped the girl before fleeing. The victim called her friends and told them what had happened before reporting the matter to the gardaí and being taken to a sexual assault unit.
The accused was identified to gardaí by the complainant through mutual friends on Facebook until she tracked him down.
During his arrest, the accused gave a prepared statement in which he claimed that the girl had flirted with him, that she approached him and asked him to walk with her, that they were kissing and that she had consented to both oral sex and intercourse.
In her victim impact statement, which she read in court, the victim said that over the past two years, it was not the accused who had to pay for what he did, but she and her family did it.
The victim said she was afraid to leave her house, afraid that her face would be around the corner. She said she sat up every night crying, hoping no one would hear her.
She said the accused had taken the funny, pleasant and confident person she once was and only now has recovered a bit of her. She said she found a bit of herself during the counseling and finally felt she was on the right track.
The victim said she was “one lucky girl” to have had her family through it all. She said she was now in a very happy relationship and her partner was really supportive.
She said that when the trial took place, “every little emotion came back”, but she was not going to show it and kept her head held high. She said the anxiety in her family home for four weeks was unlike anything they had felt before.
The victim said that when cross-examined, she had to apologize for being physically ill. She said she wasn’t going to let the defendant break her any more than he already had.
She said that during the trial the defendant sometimes chose not to appear and his behavior throughout the trial showed no respect for the court. She said he obviously had his feet on chairs, was on the phone, and would “kick off” if he had to stay past 4 p.m.
The victim said she also had autism, but did not use that as an excuse not to be in court. She said she doesn’t believe he realizes the impact he has had on her and her family.
As she read her victim impact statement, the defendant began making loud court body comments such as, “She’s lying out of her mouth” and “She’s talking shit.”
When the defendant continued to make similar comments after being warned to stop, the judge ordered that he be removed from the courtroom. He then refused to return to court before his attorney pleaded for mitigation.
Standing in the dock, prison staff told the man he would first be taken to Mountjoy Prison, a suggestion that caused them to swear.
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His mother drove to where the victim’s associates were and, putting her hands behind her as a handcuff, suggested they imprison him as well.
Outside the court, gardaí maintained a discreet but visible presence.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the 24-hour National Rape Helpline on 1800 77 8888, access texting service and chat options by line on drcc.ie/services/helpline/or visit Help in case of a rape crisis.
In an emergency, always dial 999/112.