GARDAI investigating the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in a van at a shopping complex have identified a 17-year-old boy as the suspected assailant.
The girl told gardai that a sexual encounter took place in the vehicle, which was parked alongside the Crescent shopping centre in Limerick.
It is understood the girl is from Limerick city, while the suspect lives in the area.
The alleged rape happened on November 25 after the girl met the youth at the complex, which is a popular hangout for teenagers.
It is believed the girl befriended the boy and she willingly went with him to the van. Gardai are satisfied that she did not suffer any violence prior to the incident.
Officers are examining mobile phone records to see if there was prior contact between the pair.
The girl later told a teenage friend what had happened, and she was taken to Roxboro garda station in Limerick by her parents. She was also treated at a sexual assault unit.
The girl has since been interviewed in the company of an adult and provided officers with a detailed statement of her allegations.Her friend has also been interviewed.
After speaking with the girl and studying CCTV footage from the shopping centre, gardai are satisfied they have identified the suspect.
It is understood that one theory being queried by gardai is if the pair met or communicated via a social media website before they met at the shopping complex.
Officers are also hoping to speak with a number of young males who frequent the centre, and are seeking to identify the owner of the van.
The legal age for consensual sex in Ireland is 17. A reduction to 16 was recommended in 2009 by the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment.
In 2006, the Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection recommended the same reduction.