Father who had sex with girl (16) he met on Facebook is jailed

The convicted man met the 16-year-old girl on Facebook
The convicted man met the 16-year-old girl on Facebook

A man who had sex with a 16-year-old girl he contacted on Facebook has been sentenced to three years in prison.

The now 29-year-old father of three, who cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity, was aged 27 when he met and had sex with the girl nine days after contacting her on the social networking site. 

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of defilement of a child in January 22 and February 4, 2013 at two locations in Dublin.

Judge Desmond Hogan had adjourned sentencing having heard evidence last December and asked for a probation report on the man.

He read from the report and concluded that the man had no insight into the effect he had on the girl.

“It’s all about him and how it has impacted on himself and his family. He knew well what he was at. She may have been willing but she was underage,” Judge Hogan said.

“I don’t like using that expression because it is belittling of her but he knew what he was at…his own self gratification,” the judge continued.

Caroline Biggs SC, defending, said her client acknowledges the “grave wrongdoing” he has done but added that there was no suggestion of a lack of consent in this case.

She asked the court allow the case to be adjourned as recommended in the probation report.

Ms Biggs acknowledged her client’s lack of insight but said the Probation Service are happy with him overall and are willing to work with him in relation to victim empathy.

Judge Hogan said he believes a custodial sentence must be imposed considering the seriousness of the offence and refused to adjourn the case.

He sentenced the man to three years in prison and suspended the final 12 months on condition that on his release he co-operates with the Probation Service “so they can target areas for intervention”.

Judge Hogan ordered that he undergo victim awareness work along with anything recommended by the service in relation to sexual offending and alcohol awareness.

At the initial sentence hearing in December Ms Biggs said that rumours in the community of what her client had done exceeded the actual offences in terms of seriousness.

In a later Facebook conversation, read out in court, the offender told the victim that one of her friends was going around saying “that I basically raped you”. The victim told him “I know you didn’t rape me”.

The court heard that victim's parents haven't had any recent contact with her and that she has “gone off the radar”.

In the initial Facebook conversations the man told the girl that he was aged 25 and she told him she was aged 16, saying: “you're a bit old”. She told him when her birthday was and he said they would have to wait until then.

Before their first meeting the man had sent naked photographs of himself to her telephone and she had sent some naked photographs of herself to him.

During both sexual encounters the victim asked the man to stop because it was hurting her. The court heard he continued for a few minutes before stopping.

His nine previous convictions are all for road traffic offences, including a conviction for drunk driving. The court ordered that he be registered as a sex offender.

Ms Biggs said that her client has several children from two previous relationships. A character reference from one of these women praised him as a hard working father and said these offences were an uncharacteristic aberration.

A psychological assessment placed the man at a low risk of reoffending and Ms Biggs added that he has a low IQ.

Declan Brennan  and Sonya McLean