A MAN who has admitted repeatedly raping two little girls is to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court.
The man (30), who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been sent forward for sentence at Athlone District Court. He has admitted a total of five charges of raping the girls, aged six and nine.
The girls had been attending a birthday party in the town on September 28 and the alarm was raised when they were discovered to be missing. It later emerged that they had been raped at a nearby house.
The accused man has been on remand at Castlerea Prison since early October. At the request of his solicitor, Gearoid Geraghty, he has been on suicide watch at the prison.
He has appeared on a number of occasions at Harristown District Court, which adjoins Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon. Mr Geraghty confirmed to the court last month that the man was pleading guilty to all offences – three charges of raping one girl and two charges of raping the second child.
He also confirmed that his client was waiving his right to the book of evidence and that the early pleas of guilty in the case were acceptable to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
There was an increased garda presence at Athlone District Court yesterday as the accused man arrived for the hearing. He was escorted into the courtroom by two gardai who remained alongside him in the space reserved for prisoners.
He chatted to another prisoner alongside him while waiting for his case to be called.
State solicitor for Co Westmeath Peter Jones told Judge Seamus Hughes that the defendant could be sent forward to the Central Criminal Court on signed pleas. The Director of Public Prosecutions has formally consented in writing.
Mr Geraghty confirmed that his client was pleading guilty to all five charges. The accused man walked to the court clerk's bench and formally signed the five pleas before returning to his seat.
Mr Jones formally applied to have him sent forward to the present sittings of the Central Criminal Court on the signed pleas.
He also asked the judge to make an order for the injured parties and accused man not to be identified in media reports.
Mr Geraghty applied for legal aid for a junior and senior counsel to represent his client.
The judge made all the orders sought and enquired when sentencing was likely to take place. Mr Geraghty informed him that he expected it would be finalised when the court next meets to fix sentencing dates.
The defendant was escorted from the courtroom immediately afterwards and was transported back to prison.
A handful of people shouted sporadic words of abuse as the garda van left the courthouse.