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02/08/2021

Man who drugged and defiled two teenage girls in his midlands apartment gets jail term reduced

MLA asks Lord Chief Justice to review sentence in football hooligans' case

Man who drugged and defiled two teenage girls in his midlands apartment gets jail term reduced

A “cunning” abuser who plied two young teenage girls with drugs before defiling them at his apartment in a midlands town has had a prison sentence for the offences reduced from nine to seven years.

The 31-year-old male succeeded in his appeal against the severity of the original sentence handed down at Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court in November 2019 for a 12 year jail term 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.

The Court of Appeal ruled on Friday that the sentencing judge, Judge Keenan Johnson, had erred in principle by incorrectly assessing the gravity of the offence by setting a headline sentence of 14 years.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, with Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe presiding and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said it was “excessive” and “simply too high” for offences which were between the upper end of the mid-range and lower end of the upper range in terms of severity.

However, Ms Justice Kennedy said the sentencing judge had correctly regarded the appellant’s conduct as “cunning, manipulative and offensive.”

Ms Justice Kennedy said there were many aggravating factors in the case, particularly the videoing and photographing of the older victim in sexual acts.

She said the court could not agree with the argument by counsel for the appellant, Colman Fitzgerald SC, that Judge Johnson had erred in finding that the appellant had abused his position of authority.

Mr Justice Kennedy said adults were morally obliged not to inflict harm on any child even in cases where they had no legal or moral responsibility for the welfare of a child.

Quashing the original sentence, the Court of Appeal fixed a new headline sentence of 11 years.

Allowing for mitigating factors, Ms Justice Kennedy sentenced the man to nine years in prison with the final two years suspended for a period of ten years.

She ordered that the appellant would also remain on the Sex Offenders Register for the rest of his life.

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