A man who had sex twice with a 15 year old schoolgirl has been found not guilty of engaging in a sexual act with a child under 17 years of age.

The man, who is now in his mid 20s and cannot be named, was a neighbour of the girl in Co Donegal.

The accused had pleaded not guilty claiming he did not know the girl was under 17 years of age at the time.

Letterkenny Circuit Court heard how the girl called to the man’s home and they had sex on two occasions in late 2013.

The girl became pregnant and later suffered a miscarriage.

When her father discovered what had happened, he alerted Gardai and the man was arrested.

He was later charged with two counts of engaging in a sexual act, namely sexual intercourse with a girl under 17 years of age.

The man denied the charges saying that he was not aware that the girl was under 17 years when he had sex with her.

The girl, who is now 18, gave evidence in the case admitting they had consensual sex in the bedroom of the man’s parent’s home.

They had watched DVDs and then had sex on the first occasion sometime in November, 2013.

The man then claimed that a number of days later the girl texted him and came over to his house for the second time when they had sex again.

On this occasion the girl told the man that she was 15 years of age and he said that they should stop seeing eachother.

A number of weeks later the girl felt unwell and attended her GP who suggested she undergo a pregnancy test which proved positive.

She told her mother she was pregnant but suffered a miscarriage a number of days later.

The girl’s mother took her phone and her iPad from her.

A number of days later, the woman went into her daughter’s bedroom and found another small phone.

The girl admitted that the phone had been given to her by the man because he said he was concerned about how she was and wanted to stay in contact.

The girl’s father was told of the situation and he contacted Gardai who arrested the man.

In his interview with Gardai, the man denied that he was aware of the girl’s age.

Directly after they had sex on the second occasion, the girl told the man that she was aged 15.

He said it would be a bad idea if they continued to see eachother.

He did admit that he knew the girl’s older brother and that he was still in school.

The girl’s mother said she had known the man’s family and that they lived quite close to them.

She said she was aware that the man cried when he was told that the girl had miscarried.

But the girl’s mother added “He was upset but moreso because it was more that he got caught. He was emotional but he’s good at putting on a show. I gave him a warning to stay away from my family and my daughter.”

Barrister for the man, Colm Smyth, SC, said that although his client was from a rural background and that he knew the girl’s family, he genuinely did not know her age.

He said that the one person who could prove that his client may have known the girl’s age – her brother – had not been brought to court to give evidence.

“There is not one suggestion that the relationship was secretive or covert. There is no evidence brought beyond a reasonable doubt to show he knew the girl was under 17 years,” he said.

The jury of seven men and five women took just over an hour to reach their verdict and found the man not guilty on both counts before Judge Martin Nolan.

The girl’s mother broke down in tears after the verdict was read out.


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