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Man who had sex with girl (12) weeps as he escapes jail

A 27-year-old man has walked free after he was given a suspended jail sentence for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl weeks after her Confirmation.

Father of two, Colin Reynolds (27), Highfield, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal had pleaded guilty to molesting the girl on a date between June and August 2002 when he was 19.

He is one of six men before the courts and the third to be sentenced, for sexually assaulting the young victim when she was 12 and 13 years old.

Another man is due to be sentenced later today.

At Donegal Circuit Court yesterday, Reynolds fought back tears as he apologised to his young victim for the hurt he had caused.

Sentencing him to 18 months imprisonment but suspending it for five years, Judge Raymond Fullam said he accepted that his remorse was genuine and added that he would carry the social disgrace from being placed on the sex offenders' register for five years.

The judge described the particular offence as "not particularly significant" in the litany of offences the victim had suffered in totality.

Earlier, investigating garda, Liam Feeney told the court that Reynolds met the girl in a schoolyard shelter on her Confirmation day.

He had been kissing her 15-year-old friend and later moved a short distance away to kiss or 'shift' the younger girl.

He had sex with the 12-year-old in the same place less than two months later.

The court heard that he met the woman who is now his wife shortly after that and ignored telephone and text messages that were sent to him via several phones from the 12-year-old. Garda Feeney told the court that the matter had been troubling Reynolds since then and had never left him.

Taking the stand, an emotional Reynolds, who has daughters aged five and two, said the pending sentencing had put "a bit of a damper" on his wedding day last month to wife Sylvia.


He claimed he was very immature at the time and had not planned for sex to happen.

"I would like to say to the court that I am very sorry for any wrong doing and more so to [named the victim]. I know it must be very hard for her.

"I do feel sorry for her. She had a tough time. I am sorry for any hurt I have been involved in and I hope she can get on with her life now," he said.

Garda Feeney confirmed that the troubled young victim kept a detailed diary, which included the names of 60 men, approximately 21 of whom she claimed to have had sex with.

In her victim statement, part of which was read to the court, the young victim, now aged 20, revealed how she had attempted to run away and take drugs to "block out the reality that was my life".

She also revealed how her legs and arms were covered in scars as a result of self harm.

"I hated my life and I wanted to die. I was a child. I do not feel raped. I feel robbed of my childhood," she said.

Garda Feeney said she was now in a relationship and working hard to return to full time education.

Paul Gilmore (30) and Kenneth McDonald (34), both from Lawne Park Ballyshannon, Co Donegal are currently serving jail sentences for sexually assaulting the girl.

Editorial, page 14