15 Aug 2022

'Cunning' abuser who drugged two young girls before defiling them at apartment in midlands appeals severity of sentence

A “cunning” abuser who plied two young teenage girls with drugs before defiling them at his apartment in a midlands town has appealed against the severity of a lengthy jail term imposed for the offences.

The 31-year-old male was sentenced to 12 years in prison at a sitting of Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court in November 2019 with the final three years suspended.

The appellant, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of his victims, had pleaded guilty to the defilement of a 14-year-old girl under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 on dates between September 1, 2018 and November 24, 2018 at his apartment.

He also pleaded guilty to a similar offence involving a 16-year-old girl on dates between May 1, 2017 and July 22, 2017 at the same location.

The man subsequently pleaded guilty to further two counts of meeting a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation in relation to the same two victims.

Evidence in the case heard how the man met his younger victim on a number of occasions when he contacted her via Snapchat and Instagram to persuade her to come to his apartment with the offer of free drugs including cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine before defiling her at some of their meetings.

The older victim indicated she consented to engaging in sexual activity with the appellant.

Counsel for the man, Colman FitzGerald SC, claimed the headline sentence of 14 years fixed by the sentencing judge, Judge Keenan Johnson, was “too high.”

Mr FitzGerald said his client was not in a position of authority over the girls and he had not engaged in any deliberate isolating behaviour.

He claimed the evidence lacked many of the egregious aggressive factors of other similar cases such as insidiously inveigling his way into a position of trust with his victims.

Opposing the appeal, counsel for the DPP, John Hayden SC, said the headline sentence of 14 years was justified on the established facts of the case which were rightly categorised by Judge Johnson as being in the “mid to upper range”.

Mr Hayden said there were multiple aggravating factors including the appellant’s use of drugs.

He said there was evidence that the offender had taken a picture and video of sexual encounters with one of his victims.

Mr Hayden said the man had exercised clear power over his two victims and had acted in a premeditated fashion using social media to contact his victims.

The DPP argued he was fully aware of the girls’ ages and acted “in a cunning, manipulative and grossly offensive manner.”

The Court of Appeal with Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe presiding, with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said it would issue its ruling in the case on Friday.


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