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Chef who admitted sex with girl (13) is allowed to go free

A SECOND man walked free yesterday after receiving a suspended jail sentence after admitting sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Chef Ronan Lowther (25), Mountcharles, Co Donegal, had pleaded guilty to a single count of sexually assaulting the 13-year-old in the back of his car on a date in October 2003 when he was 18 years old.

Judge Raymond Fullam sentenced the father of two to 18 months' imprisonment but suspended it for five years.

He is the fifth man before the courts and the fourth to be sentenced in relation to sexual assault crimes against the girl in south Donegal when she was 12 and 13 years old.

On Monday, another father of two, Colin Reynolds (27), Highfield, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, was also given a suspended jail sentence.

Judge Fullam said the young girl had been "abandoned to her own devices, leading a life of promiscuity before going into care until the age of 18".

Central to the garda investigation was a diary and lists of names of 60 men, over 20 of whom the 13-year-old claimed to have slept with.

The court was told that Lowther's name appeared on several lists.

The 13-year -old had sex with Lowther on the night she met him outside a nightclub in a Donegal town on August 4 2003.

The following October he drove her to a lay-by where he again had sex with her in the back of his car.

Lowther was interviewed five times by gardai and admitted knowing the 13-year-old but denied having sex with her.

He changed his plea to a guilty plea after a jury had been sworn in and a trial was about to commence last month.

Taking the stand briefly yesterday, he apologised to the victim, now aged 20, who wept quietly in the back of the court.

"I am deeply sorry for all the hurt and distress I have caused in her life. I accept I caused that hurt and distress," he said.



Advantage

He added that he also accepted that he took advantage of the 13-year-old's situation at the time.

Peter Nolan, for the defendant, pointed out that his client was just one of a large number of men, a small number of whom have been brought before the courts.

Judge Fullam noted that the age gap between Lowther and the 13-year-old was five years.

"That is not an excuse but a youth of 18 is different from sexually experienced individuals before the court in this saga," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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