Saturday 21 September 2019

Man who went on the run during sex abuse trial 'believed to be sleeping rough in capital'

Sentenced to seven years in his absence

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

Sonya McLean

A Dublin man who has been on the run since he went missing during his trial for sexually abusing his cousin has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment in his absence.

The 24-year-old man had pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of sexual assault at two locations in Dublin, on dates between June 2008 and October 2011. The girl was aged between five and eight years old at the time, while he was aged between 14 and 18 years old.

A jury of four women and eight men found the man guilty on all counts by unanimous verdict after a four day trial at the Central Criminal Court last May.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the victim's identity, went missing just before the jury delivered the verdict and has been "at large" since.

Last May, a local garda told Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy that he had made enquiries at all major Dublin hospitals, but the man had not been admitted in the previous 24 hours. Justice McCarthy issued a bench warrant for the man's arrest and ordered that he be sentenced in his absence on a later date.

The court heard that the victim's mother had taken the defendant, her cousin, into her home as he was constantly being asked to leave his own house. While living with them, he babysat his cousin's children which was when the offending took place.

The abuse involved him touching the child's breasts, genital area and putting his head in her genital area.

Last week Anthony Sammon SC, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Michael White that gardaí have not been able to execute the warrant since last May and the State wish to proceed to sentence in the man's absence.

The investigating garda told Mr Sammon, at that hearing, that a victim impact statement from the now teenager stated that she has been going to counselling every week for three years. She said she didn't go out for weeks, skipped school and often stayed in the school office with teachers rather than attend class.

She had trouble eating and sleeping and she said she was bullied for missing classes.

"I still don't sleep the best. I get upset and angry very easily. I lost loads of friends. I cry a lot," the girl's statement said.

The garda told Mr Sammon that the man had moved from Dublin to Cavan where he lived with his two children and former partner. He was arrested in Cavan to investigate the allegations but made no admissions during interview.

The garda said the man is still "at large" and believed to be sleeping rough in Dublin city.

Today Mr Justice White noted that as the man is still on the run, the seven year jail sentence will not start until his ultimate arrest.

He noted from a garda statement, prepared by the now 15-year-old girl's mother, that she felt sorry for her cousin and let him stay with her "out of kindness".

The judge said that the abuse of the girl therefore represented a "breach of trust". He added that it was a "fully contested trial" and that the offences had been carried out over a number of years on a very young child.

"It is obvious that his youth is the most mitigating factor," Mr Justice White said, noting that the man himself was a minor himself when he abused the child.

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