Sex-assault accused tells trial he had no idea girl was 13
A man accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl has told the court he had no idea of her young age when he had sex with her.
The 26-year-old man is denying three charges of sexually assaulting the then 13-year-old girl in the grounds of a primary school in a south Donegal town in 2003 when he was 19.
Taking the stand on the second day of the trial at Donegal Circuit Court yesterday, the accused man said he had been in a relationship with the plaintiff during the month of September 2003 but said he had never asked her age.
"She was well dressed, she looked older then what she is. I had no doubts to even question her about her age," the man said.
He added that if he had known her age, he would have "left her alone".
"She never mentioned school. There was not one sign, of anything, that would have indicated her age," he said.
The defendant, who revealed he could not read or write, told the court he met the plaintiff in a fast-food restaurant.
He said the plaintiff wore make-up and was served in most of the pubs and nightclubs they went to.
When he was first confronted by gardai about her true age, he said he was shocked. "I might as well have been at my niece," the man said.
In her evidence, the plaintiff, now aged 20, told the court the accused man had asked her age shortly after they met and she had told him she was 13.
Earlier the trial heard that when the victim was 12 and 13 she kept a diary and lists of men with whom she claimed to have had sexual encounters and the dates on which they occurred.
She also kept a period chart so that, in the event of becoming pregnant, she could identify the father.
The court heard that the name of the accused man appeared on her lists.
In a statement made to gardai in December 2003, the girl's mother admitted that she knew her daughter was sexually active and using a contraceptive injection.
"Sometimes she gets into a car and leaves and returns on foot. On occasion she comes back with money, I know these are not steady boyfriends," she said in her statement.
Summing up, the prosecuting counsel said that consent could not be considered as a defence on any charge of sexual assault on a person under the age of 15.
The jury is expected to be charged this morning before it retires to consider a verdict.