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Donegal man jailed for rape of a 14-year-old girl when he was 15 years old

Donegal man jailed for rape of a 14-year-old girl when he was 15 years old

A Donegal man has been jailed for three years for the rape of a 14-year-old girl at a teenage disco when he was 15 years old.

A trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that the man, now aged 20, pushed the girl into the ladies toilets and raped her in a cubicle.

The pair were seen kissing shortly before their friends had encouraged her to “meet”, or kiss him, during the youth disco.

Lawyers for the man put it to the victim that the couple were “shifting” at the disco and had gone to the toilet for privacy where “they were fondling and it got out of hand”.

The woman repeatedly denied this version of events.

After the verdict the man, who cannot be named to protect the victim's anonymity, said he realised he should not have done what he did.

He had pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault of the girl at a nightclub in a Co Donegal town on December 23, 2010.

Last January a jury of seven men and five women returned the unanimous verdicts of guilty on both charges after deliberating for just over two hours. After the verdict Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan ordered the man undergo an assessment by the Probation Services.

Peter Nolan BL, defending, told the court during this assessment the man had said that he was wrong and should not have tried to have sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old.

In sentencing him Ms Justice Heneghan said that she had to consider the gravity of the offence and the lack of any expression of remorse.

She also noted, by way of mitigating factors, that he was a minor at the time of the rape, the delay in the prosecuting the case, his co-operation with investigating gardaí and his lack of previous convictions.

She said the offence merited a sentence of five years imprisonment but that she would suspend the final two years with a view to encouraging the man's rehabilitation.

The judge also ordered him not to contact the victim again and to undergo two years post-release supervision with the Probation Services. The sentence was backdated to January, when he went into custody.

Mr Nolan told the court that before the trial his client had offered to plead guilty to the offence of defilement but the Director of Public Prosecutions had rejected this offer and proceeded with the prosecution for rape.

A victim impact report was provided but not read out in court on account of the victim's wishes.

The woman told the trial that during the youth disco the boy's friends asked her to “go with” the accused, meaning to kiss him. She said she refused repeatedly but finally gave in and sat beside him.

A witness told gardaí that they were “sitting in the corner shifting” and she was “sitting on his lap facing him”. The woman told Peter Finlay SC, defending, that this account was not true.

She said she was very “nervous and naive” about sitting with the boy and that she sat to his left and that they were kissing.

The accused kept putting his hand up her skirt and she kept pushing it away and told him to stop. She then told him she wanted to go find her friends in the smoking area.

He walked with her towards this area, holding her hand. She said she thought they were going to find her friends until he pushed her into the toilets.

She didn't know what was happening and asked him to let her out as he took her into a cubicle.

“He had me up against the wall. He pulled down my underwear. I tried to pull them back up but he had me pinned,” she testified.

She said he pulled down his trousers and raped her. She had never had sex before, that it hurt and felt “excruciating” and she was screaming and crying.

A female friend of the victim met her afterwards and saw she was upset. She confronted the accused on the night and he told her he had done nothing. When she “kept at him” he told her, “yeah, she said yeah”.

The accused told gardaí that he had no recollection of being in the girls' toilet in the nightclub.

Cross examining the woman, Mr Finlay said: “The two of you were fondling each other and it got out of hand. He sat on the toilet and you sat on top of him and you both tried to do something but failed”. The woman denied this is what happened.

During the trial Ms Justice Heneghan had instructed the jury that, while consent was a constituent legal factor in rape, a person under 15 could not consent.

She that where a person below a certain age engaged in sexual activity it would not be consent.

The man's defence had put it to the woman that the couple were “shifting” at the disco and had gone to the toilet for privacy where “they were fondling and it got out of hand”. The woman denied this version of events.