A 42-year-old man who came into contact with a 16-year-old girl through Facebook with the intent of sexually exploiting was sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Anthony Hunt. The defendant, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, has addresses in Roscommon and Longford.
After a change to the charges levelled against him in Longford Circuit Court he entered a plea of guilty to the sexual exploitation of a minor on dates between May 2010 and September 2010.
The accused had previously been convicted in another Circuit Court for the possession, distribution and the production of child pornography on a date between 26 May 2010 and 26 August 2010. He had also previously been convicted of secual exploitation of another minor in a different county. He is currently serving a nine year sentence in relation to that matter. He had come to garda attention in respect of those crimes after he was detected by UK police authorities in a sting operation having been intercepted by an undercover policewoman making contact with teenage girls on Internet chat rooms.
The defendant had initially been scheduled for trial by jury at the Circuit Court sitting, however he changed his plea when the charges were amended from sexual assault to the sexual exploitation of a minor by inducing the child to engage in sexual or indecent acts.
Garda Orla Geraghty told the court that she took over the investigation of the matter in 2010. Giving evidence the Garda said that the mother of the victim had contacted Longford Garda Station in October of 2010 to make a complaint. The complaint centred on an overt sexual comment made by a former neighbour to her 16-year-old daughter on Facebook.
The victim had accepted a friend request from the defendant based on their prior acquaintance. The accused had then engaged in contact by messaging her on the private message “chat”. He had initially been general conversation in which he told of his new residence.
However the convicted paedophile soon started to make sexually explicit advances on the minor. Garda Geraghty said that it had been difficult to compile some of the evidence in the case as in 2010 the Facebook “chats” were not automatically saved. The garda witness said that the injured party had spoke to a specialist interviewer who pieced together the dialogue between the parties.
Garda Gearaghty said that the defendant had sent a message that he had a chest infection and asked his prey if she would nurse him. He then asked if she wondered why is a 39 year old was asking a 16 year old to his house. He said that he had fantasies of doing naughty things to a teenager.
In a post on the victim’s public wall he said that he knew that she was thinking about the proposition and said: “Give me a straight yes or no -maybe babes xxx.”
Subsequent to this the accused deleted his profile, but later returned on line and posted on the injured party’ss page “back on line. did you think about it xxx” and “what would you think of coming over to my home”.
At this point the victim posted on her status: “There are some freaks out there.”
The defendant deleted the young girl from his friend list after this comment, but later sent another friend request.
Garda Geraghty said that she went to Castlerea Prison and spoke to the accused about the incident. He said that he wished to co operate with the investigation, but in an interview with gardaí said that he had no recollection of the dialogue. He maintained that he knew her parents, but did not know the children and that nothing that the gardaí put to him jogged his memory.
Barrister for the defendant, Bernard Madden BL, said that his client was not violent or confrontational. He said that the defendant had been married with four children, but was now separated. Mr Madden said that his client wished to make an unreserved apology to the injured party.
He said that the accused had engaged in rehabilitation courses while in custody and was regarded as a model prisoner. He said that his client was concerned about the effect this has had on the victims family, but also on his own family who had suffered since the matter first came to public notice.
Noting that there was no direction for the compilation of a victim impact statement Judge Hunt asked Garda Geraghty how the injured party had coped in the aftermath of the incident. She said that the victim was getting on with her life, but was wary of strangers.
The judge was critical of how far the accused had brought matters before entering a plea of guilty, but noted that by doing so he had saved the victim the distress of giving evidence. He said that as it took place at roughly the same time as the other incident for which the man was serving a nine year sentence. He said that due to the fact the defendant had entered a plea of guilty he would impose a consecutive sentence of six years in prison.
Judge Hunt also directed that the defendant engage in post release supervision and would be subject to notification requirements.