Saturday 17 March 2018

Romanian man gets suspended sentence for sex with girlfriend (15)

Sonya McLean

A 35-YEAR-OLD Romanian man who brought his then 14-year-old girlfriend to Ireland to live with him has been given a suspended sentence for having sex with her

Garda Martina Brant told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that the offence came to light when the girl arrived at hospital a few months’ pregnant. She was 15 at the time.

She later told gardai that she was living with her older boyfriend whom she met in their home country of Romania. She said they did not have a sexual relationship before they moved to Ireland but she offered him sex as “a birthday present” when she turned 15.

The man who cannot be named to protect the identity of the now 18-year-old woman pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to engaging in a sexual act with a child at the home they shared in Dublin. He was registered as a sex offender.

The couple now have a two-and-half-year-old child. The man was not allowed to have any contact with his girlfriend while on bail awaiting sentence but he did have occasional visits with his child.

Gda Brant said the girl’s father had signed documentation giving the man permission to bring his daughter to Ireland and the couple lived in a house shared with the defendant’s mother and sister.

The teenager stayed in the house while her boyfriend went to work every day. He paid the rent and gave her money for anything she needed.

She later told gardai in interview that the relationship had been “at all times” consensual, that they were in love and they intended to get married as soon as she “became of age”.

Gda Brant said she was taken into the care of the HSE until she was 18.

The man later made a voluntary statement to gardai and admitted that he had been in a sexual relationship with the teenager.

He accepted he knew it was illegal to have such a relationship with a girl of her age. He said he was 30 when they first met.

The girl refused to prepare a victim impact report for the court hearing.

Gda Brant agreed with Simon Brady BL, defending, that it still is his client’s intention to marry the teenager.

Mr Brady said the man is currently working and has always done so while living in Ireland.

Judge Martin Nolan said the relationship had been condoned by both the man’s and the teenager’s families and the invitation to have sex had been made by her.

He said it was his understanding that this law existed to protect young girls from predatory behaviour because they are not in a position to consent to sexual activity due to their immaturity.

“This girl does not feel that she has been preyed upon or taken advantage of,” Judge Nolan said before he accepted that the man had behaved responsibly towards the teenager.

He added that the couple came from a different society to ours but said the man knew it was illegal to have sex with an underage girl in Ireland. He also accepted that the fact that the man is now a registered sex offender is a punishment in itself.

“I feel it would be unjust to impose a custodial sentence in all the circumstances,” the judge said before he sentenced the man to two and half years which he suspended in full on strict conditions.

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