Saturday 20 December 2014

Man who had sex with 13-year-old girl does not have paedophile tendencies, says psychologist

Sonya McLean

Published 12/10/2012 | 14:55

A CLINICAL psychologist has told a judge he is satisfied that a man who had sex with a 13-year-old girl does not have paedophile tendencies.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told in a previous sentence hearing earlier this month that the 24-year-old man had befriended the teenager through Bebo after using a false name and claiming to be 19 years old.

He continued the contact and later swapped phone numbers. He met the girl over a year later, brought her back to his family home and had sex with her.

The Dublin man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to two charges of defilement of a child at his home on April 29, 2011. He has a previous District Court conviction for possession of a knife.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring had adjourned the case after hearing evidence because she was concerned that the man had both “groomed and targeted” his victim.

She noted that a report prepared for the sentence hearing indicated that the man was at “a moderate low risk of re-offending” but said she wanted the report updated to specifically address “the targeting element” of the case.

Today, Doctor Patrick Randall, who had prepared the original report, told Judge Ring that he was satisfied that the man does not have paedophilic tendencies but rather “gravitates towards younger people because he is more comfortable with them”.

He agreed with Judge Ring that the man’s emotional maturity had essentially “stalled”.

Dr Randall told Paul Greene SC, defending, that it was well known that Bebo is essentially used by younger teenagers and said he believed it was “no accident” that the man had specifically used this social networking site.

“I don’t believe, however, that he exclusively or specifically targeted this age group over any other age group,” Dr Randall said.

When asked by Roisin Lacey BL, prosecuting, to clarify this statement which she described as a “little confused” Dr Randall explained; “He has not a well practised way of being with girls his own age.”

“He therefore gravitates towards younger people he feels more comfortable with them,” the doctor continued.

He said he concluded that the man’s “sexual interests” were age-appropriate and he did not have paedophilic tendencies.

“He looked to access young people who he has an emotional affinity with but he does not have an interest in pre-pubescent children,” Dr Randall told Ms Lacey.

He agreed with counsel that the man did have a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl when he himself was 17.

Judge Ring said she was still “very troubled” by the fact that the man had specifically targeted a site that young people frequented.

“The use of the internet in meeting and deceiving a person in the context of a sexual offence is considered an aggravating factor by the courts as it is an area where children and young people are vulnerable,” Judge Ring said.

She said the courts were aware of the dangers of that kind of grooming and that these sites have the ability to hide who someone really is.

Judge Ring remanded the man in custody and adjourned the case to December.

She asked for the preparation of a probation report to determine what kind of treatment would be available for the man upon his release from prison.

During the earlier sentence hearing the court heard that the man later admitted to the girl that he had used a false name and photograph on the site but then became friends with her on another site and swapped phone numbers.

A number of text messages, some of a “sexual nature”, were exchanged before he arranged to meet the girl outside his local supermarket.

He then brought her back to the home he shared with his parents. They went upstairs to his bedroom and kissed before he asked for oral sex. He promised that he would not have intercourse with her.

The man later had sex with the teenager and anal sex. They then had sex a second time before going into the sitting room.

The man’s father, who had been in the back garden during the incident, came into the room and his son claimed he had been giving the teenager guitar lessons.

The man then brought the teenager back to the supermarket where he had initially met her and bought her a number of bottles of vodka.

Her mother, who had thought her daughter had been meeting a friend, later collected her from outside the same supermarket.

The court heard that an offer of €5,000 compensation has been accepted by the teenager.

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