A District Court Judge said he was not imposing a custodial sentence on a Donegal man charged with sexual assault as it would not ‘benefit the victim or society in general’.

The man, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to the charge arising out of an incident that happened in March 2015.

Both parties in the case were minors at the time of the offence when the victim was 9 and the defendant 16.

In a victim impact statement, the victim’s mother said her son was ‘reluctant to speak, broken down and nervous leaving the house, especially leaving family’.

She said in the written statement: “He has prescribed medication to overcome the problems. He has nightmares and is embarrassed getting dressed or changed in front of people. We are extremely protective and are worried when he is not with us.

“The medication has placed an additional financial strain. The whole experience has had a negative impact on the family as a whole.”

The victim, now 12, and his family were not present in court.

Letterkenny District Court heard that the accused, who is now 18 and who was accompanied in court by his parents, had to leave education and has been unable to resume since.

“In a way, he has been living a sentence as well,” his Barrister said.,

“No mater what way he turns, the door appears shut.”

The defendant’s father said that his family apologised for what had happened.

“We understand the gravity of what happened,” he said. “It has been a nightmare for us, socially, mentally and physically. We wish it had never happened.

“24/7 supervision is very difficult, but that’s the only option available. I don’t think anyone can expect a father and mother to supervise a child 24/7.

“He understands the gravity of the situation too. It has taken a while to grasp it. He does realise that the actions and what happened were totally wrong.”

Inspector Goretti Sheridan said there should be nothing to percale the defendant from being named, but Judge Kelly noted that Judge Mitchell placed a reporting restriction on the case.

Judge Paul Kelly said the conviction would ‘form part of life’ for the defendant going forward and that allegations of a ‘serious sexual nature’ would have ‘all sorts of connotation’.

Judge Kelly noted progress in his engagement with the probation service, but had serious concerns around his ‘intellectual situation’. He praised the efforts of the defendant’s parents, whom he said had been ‘greatly distressed’ but who had supported him ‘to an extraordinary high level’.

Passing sentence, Judge Kelly said he had to mark ‘the seriousness and impact on the victim’.

He directed that the accused enter a bond to keep the peace for two years in his own bond of €500. The bond was subject to conditions: that the continue attending for treatment; that he attend a psychotherapist weekly; that he attend any education, training job or training programme that is acceptable; that he have no unsupervised contact through social media or phone with persons under 18 or vulnerable adults; and that he be placed on the sex offenders register for five years from May 2017.


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