22 Jan 2022

Man jailed for defilement of 13-year-old school girl

Man jailed for defilement of 13-year-old school girl

A former teacher who engaged in multiple acts of defilement and grooming of a 13-year-old girl has been jailed following his appearance at Longford Circuit Court on January 20, 2021.

Cian Cooney, with an address at Laurel Drive, Esker Hill, Portlaoise, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison with the final 18 months suspended for five years.

The 35-year-old entered a guilty plea last May to 11 counts of defilement, sexual activity and exploitation of the 13-year-old girl between October 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.

At a sitting of Longford Circuit court in Mullingar last week, Judge Keenan Johnson ruled that Mr Cooney could be named, stating that “justice must not just be done, but must be seen to be done”.

In his judgement, Judge Johnson noted the strength of the victim in coming forward to report the offences committed against her when she was a child, and the work she is doing now with her counsellor in order to move past the abuse.

“I sincerely hope that she enjoys the happy and fulfilled life that she so richly deserves,” said Judge Johnson.

“I want to thank her for her participation in these proceedings, for her bravery, for her insightfulness and her honesty.

“By taking the action she has in making her complaint to the Gardaí and giving such a powerful victim impact statement, she has not only done herself proud, but she has also eased the way for and offered inspiration to other victims of sexual abuse.”

Turning to the issue of sentencing, Judge Johnson listed a number of aggravating and mitigating factors in the case to balance the needs of society against the needs of the victim and the needs of the accused.

“There is no doubt that the offending in this case was extremely serious, given the repetitive nature of the offences, the age differential between the accused and the victim, the status and position of the accused as a teacher, the grooming and premeditation that was involved, the initial denials of responsibility, the effect on the victim of the accused's failure to give any thought or consideration to the victim and the effects of his offending on her,” he said.

“I am satisfied that the offending in this case, given its intensity and seriousness, ranks at the mid range to upper range for sentencing purposes and does, before mitigation, attract a headline sentence of eight years and six months imprisonment.”

Taking into account a number of mitigating factors, including a guilty plea, an expression of remorse, efforts made at rehabilitation, a lack of previous convictions, loss of his occupation as a teacher, placement on the sex offenders register, separation from his partner, children and family that incarceration will entail, efforts made to pay compensation to the sum of €10,000 to the victim, and his participation in the One in Four Prevention Programme, Judge Johnson reduced that headline sentence to six years and six months.

He then suspended the final 18 months for a period of five years on the condition that Mr Cooney enter into a bond of €500 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of five years post-release.

The sentence was imposed on count one and all other counts were taken into consideration.

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