A man who sexually assaulted a vulnerable young girl who treated him like a father has been jailed for six and a half years.
The man, who is in his 40s, appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court but cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim.
The man pleaded to the assault which took place on June 16th, 2019 after the man had spotted the girl who was out walking her dog.
The girl is known personally to the man but their relationship cannot be disclosed to with-hold her identify.
The court was told that after the man and girl had been out for a walk he invited her into his home for a drink of water.
He then began to kiss her but told her they would not be having sex.
However, the man undressed the girl, lay her on the bed and then sexually assaulted her.
The man warned her not to tell anyone but the girl later told an adult who contacted Gardai.
Gardai viewed CCTV footage of the area of the day in question and saw the pair together.
They later arrested the man and he made full admissions to the assault.
In her victim impact statement the girl said she had trusted the man but that every time she sees him now she feels sick and scared.
The man took to the witness stand and led by his barrister Colm Smith he said he wanted to apologise to his victim.
The man told the girl who was in court “I’m very sorry pet. You are a great friend and ….I always enjoyed your company. I’m very sorry pet.”
The man wept as he apologised to the girl.
The court was told the man had become completed isolated from the community and his family since the incident and was drinking a lot.
Mr Smith added “It is clear he cared for and loved her and he has to carry the burden of this breach of trust and that will be a heavy burden.”
Passing sentence Judge John Aylmer described the assault as a “gross breach of trust” saying the accused had full knowledge that the young woman was a protected person because of her intellectual disability.
He said he placed the case at the upper end of the lower end of such offences which merited a sentence of ten years in prison before mitigation.
He added that in mitigation the man had entered an early plea and was clearly remorseful for the hurt he had caused the young woman and reduced the sentence to one of seven and a half years.
The Judge added that the man’s demeanour in court was evidence of his shame and remorse.
He said he also needed to offer the accused an incentive for rehabilitation and suspended the last 12 months of the sentence meaning the man will serve six and a half years in prison.