Sunday 18 February 2018

Dad given further jail term for trying to lure second teen girl on Facebook

Brian McDonald

A middle-aged man has been given a second prison sentence for the sexual exploitation of young teenage girls by using Facebook.

The 42-year-old entered a guilty plea minutes before his trial was due to take place at Longford Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.

He admitted a charge of sexually exploiting a 16-year-old girl in the summer of 2010 by inviting or inducing her to engage in a sexual or indecent act.

The separated father of four was jailed for nine years last year after being convicted of grooming a 14-year-old girl for sex.

And he is being sought by police in Scotland after being detected in a sting operation four years ago. He was identified by an undercover policewoman while making contact with teenage girls on internet chat rooms.

At Longford Circuit Court yesterday Judge Tony Hunt was told by defence counsel Bernard Madden that the accused man's children had suffered a lot from publicity surrounding his conviction last year.

Prosecution counsel Des Dockery also advised him that, while the charge did not attract the in-camera rule, if he was identified, it could lead to the identification of his most recent victim.

The judge ruled that the perpetrator could not be named in media reports.

But Judge Hunt said that he would not prohibit the publication of his previous conviction at Roscommon Circuit Criminal Court.

A former IT technician, the man had made contact with both of his Irish victims via Facebook, the court heard.

Judge Hunt warned parents that the lesson to be drawn from this case was that they should be very watchful of their youngsters engaging with social media.

"No doubt, Facebook is very useful. But there are some dark sides to it that are not beneficial or socially useful," the judge said.

Garda Orla Geraghty told the court that the 16-year-old girl's mother had called to a garda station to make a complaint in October 2010. She said that her daughter had been propositioned to have sex with an older man.

The girl confirmed that she had been in contact with the man on Facebook. Initially it had been innocuous chat but he subsequently suggested that she was "tempted". He then ended a message with "Babes XXX".

He left his mobile number and returned to question if the girl had thought about it. He made reference to "one having fantasies of doing naughty things to a teenager". He told her not to tell her parents because "they'd kill me".

Later he asked her "what do you think?" When she queried what he meant, he had replied "about coming over to have sex with me". He also told her that he thought she was very sexy.


The girl subsequently changed her status and posted a message saying there were "some freaks out there".

Gardai got an arrest warrant and went to Castlerea Prison in June 2012 where the man was in custody awaiting sentence after pleading guilty at Roscommon Circuit Court to a similar charge. He said he had no recollection of the exchanges with the 16-year-old.

Garda Geraghty said that the girl was now doing well and engaged in her studies. But she did not trust people in the same way as before and was very wary.

Judge Hunt said that the man was capable of being more than just a menace on social media.

He praised the girl's good sense to change her Facebook status and alert her parents as soon as the conversation took a different turn.

Jailing the man for six years from yesterday the judge added: "It's a sad lesson to be learnt . . . from social media".

Irish Independent

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