A young man who defiled a girl at a party when they were both aged 15 has asked the Court of Appeal to reduce his sentence before he is transferred to an adult prison.
Michael Bowman SC, for the 18-year-old, told the three-judge court that a delay in bringing his client's case to court means that he will serve a significant portion of his 18-month sentence in an adult prison, having committed the offence when he was a child.
It emerged during a sentence hearing that the prosecution was delayed because a garda looking to take a statement from the defendant repeatedly called to the wrong address. Mr Bowman said his client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and is suffering because of a delay that was not his fault. He said the sentencing judge had failed to place sufficient weight on the fact that his client would have spent most or all of his sentence in a juvenile detention centre had it not been for the delay.
The appellant is due to be transferred to an adult prison in the coming weeks when he reaches the age of 18 years and six months.
He pleaded guilty on July 27, 2020 to defilement of a child aged between 15 and 17 on August 9, 2018 contrary to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006.Mr Bowman also argued that the sentence imposed failed to adequately reflect mitigating factors including his client's early guilty plea, lack of previous convictions, good behaviour since the offence and traumas he had suffered in his own life. He expressed genuine remorse at all stages, Mr Bowman said, is at low risk of re-offending and has shown empathy for the injured party and accepts responsibility for the offence.
Paul Greene SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions said there was no "prejudicial delay in the investigation". He pointed out that the sentencing judge acknowledged the delay and accepted it was not the fault of the appellant. He further pointed out that the sentence imposed represented a 70 percent decrease from the five-year headline sentence that the sentencing judge said would have been appropriate for an adult who committed the same offence.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Mr Justice John Edwards, said they expect to give their judgement within a few days.
At the sentence hearing Garda Brian Law told the Central Criminal Court that on August 9, 2018 the appellant and the victim gathered at a party with a group of friends. The appellant, who was drinking alcohol for the first time, and the girl separated from the group and fell asleep on a bench. Gda Law said both were drunk and she was in a "confused state" but at some point she "became aware of the accused man with his trousers down and she felt... that he was inside of her." She froze and pretended to be asleep.
She said it lasted a few minutes and then he redressed and they went to find their friends. When she told her boyfriend what had happened he became physically and verbally abusive towards the appellant. The following day the boyfriend went to the appellant's home, intending to assault him, the court heard.
The appellant, feeling threatened, rang gardai and sparked an investigation that uncovered evidence of the sexual offence. The victim made a statement to gardai on August 19, 2018, but it would be another 13 months before the appellant was questioned. He gave a full account and accepted responsibility. He was charged with rape in May 2020 but the DPP later accepted a plea to the lesser charge of defilement.
Passing sentence Mr Justice Michael White said the offender "took advantage" of the girl when she was "extremely intoxicated". He set a headline sentence of five years but reduced it to 18 months having considered the mitigating factors, including the age of the defendant at the time of the offence.
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