A man who was a teenager when he sexually abused his young next door neighbour has been jailed for six and half years.
The 26-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of his victim, was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury in October of 31 counts of sexual assault, oral rape and attempted anal rape of the boy at locations in Co Carlow close to his and his victim’s home, on dates between January 2012 and August 2017.
The accused man was aged between 14 and 19 years old during the offending and his victim was aged between seven and 10 years old.
The accused man has no previous convictions and does not accept the verdicts of the jury.
The court heard the offending involved the accused man touching his victim’s penis and making the victim touch his. It escalated to oral rape and attempted anal rape.
The victim described specific incidents during the trial but said it occurred many more times.
The offending came to an end as the accused and complainant’s lives diverged as they aged.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the young man said the assaults “made my life a complete nightmare.”
“Nobody knew a thing besides me and him. He used to tell me it was our little secret,” he said. The man “knew I was vulnerable and took full advantage of me,” he told the court.
He told the court he finds it difficult to sleep at night and suffers from severe anxiety. He said: “On the inside I’m broke and completely torn to pieces. I will never be right because of him.”
“I just don’t want this to happen to another innocent child like it did to me,” he said, before thanking the court and prosecuting counsel “from the bottom of my heart.”
Mr Justice Kerida Naidoo said yesterday (Monday) it was clear that the offending had a profoundly damaging effect on the victim.
He noted the offending did not involve gratuitous violence over and above the acts themselves but said it was serious offending and occurred over most of the victim’s childhood.
Justice Naidoo noted in mitigation the accused man’s age and maturity level at the time, acknowledging that his immaturity reduced his culpability.
He also noted that the accused had persisted in his offending, without gaining insight into the harm he was doing or showing victim empathy as he matured. He had set about persuading the younger child it was “normal” by showing him pornography at a young age.
He said the accused was not entitled to the mitigation a guilty plea would bring and does not accept his wrongdoing. He said given the persistent nature of the offending the lack of previous convictions was not a mitigating factor, but the fact he has not come to subsequent adverse garda attention was mitigating.
He noted the man’s family were decent people and good neighbours but said this was not mitigation for the man. He accepted the man led an isolated life and that testimonials before the court speak to a good character.
He set headline sentences totalling 14 years, which he reduced to eight years taking into account mitigation. He suspended the final 18 months on strict conditions to encourage rehabilitation.
A prosecuting garda told Vincent Heneghan SC, prosecuting, that both the victim and accused man had been living on a small housing estate. There weren’t many children in the area so they would have played with each other.
The garda said that when the two boys weren’t overlooked by adults, the accused man would show the victim pornography and sexually abuse him. This abuse took the form of mutual touching of penises, oral sex, and attempted anal rape.
The abuse occurred in the rear shed of the accused man’s house, inside a room within that house and in a cornfield near the housing estate.
Colman Cody SC, defending, said his client “maintains his innocence in respect of these charges” and that prison will be “particularly difficult” for him.
He said there was no suggestion that violence or the threat of violence had been used during the course of abuse. He also said there was no element of grooming in the abuse, and that the two boys had become friends because they were neighbours.
Mr Cody also added that “the issue of minority clearly has to play a significant part” as much of the offending occurred when the accused man was underage.