'Don't jail man who abused my five-year-old daughter' - says devastated mother
The parents of a five-year-old girl sexually assaulted by an 18-year-old autistic man pleaded for him not to be jailed.
The plea came as the man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting the child.
It happened while his mother, who was the girl's childminder, had briefly left her in his care while she attended to another youngster.
Detective Sergeant Sean Leahy told Judge Sean O'Donnabhain that the man made full and immediate admissions about the incident, which occurred at a Cork address on April 13, 2016.
The little girl's mother told the court her family did not want to see the man receive a prison sentence.
"It is 100pc our preference for (him) to get intervention supports and not a custodial sentence," she said.
The mother told the court she was concerned when she was informed the childminder had to leave her daughter in the care of her teenage son while she attended to another youngster that day. "My gut fears and my worst nightmare (later) came true," she said. "I have now unashamedly lost all trust in teenage boys."
She said the family hope the incident won't have any long-lasting impact on the little girl - but they are concerned that she somehow feels she got the teen into trouble.
The incident came to light when the little girl told her parents after she got home that the man had taken off her underwear and had then taken off his own trousers.
Gardaí were immediately informed and the young man was questioned.
Det Sgt Leahy said the man revealed specific details of the incident which the child had not told gardaí about.
After making a full statement, the young man then got physically sick in the Garda station.
Det Sg Leahy told the court that there was no penetrative abuse whatsoever of the child.
The man, who is autistic, was having a shower that day and became aroused.
He was curious about what happened and decided to take off the girl's underwear and then his own.
When questioned by gardaí, the man admitted he was concerned he had gotten into trouble and that he could now go to jail.
His parents always felt there was something different about him and, after a psychological examination, he was confirmed as having an autism spectrum disorder.
Judge O'Donnabhain was told the man deeply regrets what happened and is very remorseful over what he did to the child who he considered his friend.
The man's mother - a very respected childminder who had looked after the family's children for years - was left devastated by what had happened.
Judge O'Donnabhain was told the youth is now in third level training and is undergoing assessment by Aspect as regards his autism. He is undergoing a special sex and relationships education programme.
He adjourned sentencing until May 29 so he can be briefed on details of the Aspect education programme.
The man, who is now 19, was remanded on continuing bail.