Monday 16 July 2018

Boy (17) pleads guilty to sexual assault of girl (6) while playing hide-and-seek

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Tom Tuite

A TEENAGE boy is awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl while playing hide and seek.

The boy, aged 17, who cannot be identified, appeared at the Dublin Children’s Court to plead guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one charge for attempted sexual assault. He had earlier indicated he was contesting the case and was due to face trial, however, he changed his plea today.

He spoke briefly to indicate he did not want to face trial before a jury in the circuit court. Sentencing was adjourned after Judge John O’Connor heard the facts of the case.

The girl, now aged 8, suffered from sleepless nights and suicidal ideation following the assaults and her mother told the court there was no getting away from this nightmare.

Prosecution counsel Antonia Boyle told the court the offences happened in 2016.

Garda Catherine McEvoy agreed with Ms Boyle that a couple of months later a complaint was made.

The girl’s mother reported to gardai that while on holiday her daughter had seen her father coming out of the bathroom naked and asked her mother, ‘Why is Daddy’s willy down when X’s (the teenage defendant) does be pointing up?’.”

The girl regularly played with another member of the boy’s family. The garda agreed the child had described how the boy’s trousers had accidentally fallen down and it had started off with touching her back side while her pants were down and this escalated after five occasions.

The girl had been interviewed by gardai with specialist training.

The questions and answers were read into the court record.

The girl, who was not required to give evidence during the hearing, remembered that while she had been at his house he had slapped her back side, outside her clothing.

But she told gardai that another time the boy, then aged 15, pulled her pants down as he was in his bed. She said the teen touched her back side and described how he “kind of massaged it”.

She said on another occasion he tried to do it again but she did not let him. She said the boy had tried to touch her private parts with her pants and underwear pulled down while she was standing up, the court was told.

The child described another time when the boy had been in his bed and “accidentally pulled his pants off getting up, it scared me”.

She told the investigation she could see his private parts and “it did not look nice”.

The girl then hid from him in the room, “because I was frightened”.

The child was unable to give an exact number of occasions this happened and said possibly one or up to nine times, and she was not able to say which month. But she knew she had been visiting the boy’ home and it mostly happened while playing hide and seek.

When the teenager was later arrested he was questioned denied inappropriately touching her.

The garda agreed with defence counsel Damian McKeone that the boy had no prior criminal convictions and has not come to Garda attention since.

She confirmed the case was that he sexually assaulted the girl by touching her backside with her pants on, on the first occasion; the second incident of attempted sexual assault related to when the boy tried to touch her vagina with her pants down and the third charge was for the sexual assault when the boy had his pants down and she saw his penis.

It appeared to have happened in the boy’s bedroom and in another room at his home.

The garda agreed with the defence barrister that when the girl stated she had seen the boy’s pants down it was an accident.

The girl’s mother, visibly upset, gave an emotional victim impact statement.

She told the court her daughter suffered nightmares for months afterwards, won’t stay in her own bed on her own and “needs mammy with her all the time”.

The woman said her child, now aged 8, had suicidal thoughts for four months after the incidents. The woman also had to go to her GP due to stress and worry about her daughter.

The girl had lost her friendship and would not go out to play.

The family are now attending appointments to help them cope with what happened.

“Her life has been on hold for the last two years, all we want is to move on from this, get on with her lives and back to normal. It’s very hard to explain the hurt and heartache this has had on us as a family,” the girl’s mother said.  She fears her daughter will suffer a relapse, she said.

“It’s hard to forget your nightmare and the impact it has on your family there is no getting away from these,” she told the court. The judge said the woman’s statement was very moving and thanked her.

Pleading for leniency, Mr McKeone described how the teenager had good achievements and awards in school and through his involvement in sport. He had also wanted to go to college and had a particular career in mind.

He said a conviction and possibly being placed on a sex offenders register would make it very difficult.

Therapy treatment was required for the boy, counsel said, however, the court heard that none has been arranged yet.

Judge John O’Connor warned that the teen could face a sentence of up to two years and he was lucky his case had not been sent to the circuit court which can impose lengthier terms.

The judge asked for a preliminary probation report to be furnished to the court as he adjourned the case until a date later this month.

The, who was accompanied to court by his mother, was remanded on continuing bail.

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