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Vile predator Snapchat creep who preyed upon and assaulted vulnerable girl (12) walks free from prison

Lee Devanney walked to freedom and a hug from a friend after serving a year-and-a-half behind bars for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl

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Lee Devanney

Lee Devanney

Lee Devanney

Snapchat pervert Lee Devanney walked through the prison gates to freedom and a hug from a friend after serving a year-and-a-half behind bars for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.

A young woman met the registered sex offender as he walked free, along with the driver of a car who arrived to collect him at the Midlands Prison this week.

The Co Clare man was given a two-year sentence in July 2020 after pleading guilty to seven counts of sexually assaulting the girl, who was described in court as "vulnerable".

Devanney, who was 17 at the time of the offences in 2014 and 2015, had since moved to live in France where he was engaged to a woman.

Clutching his belongings in two plastic bags, his smile concealed beneath his face mask, he was driven off in the back seat to re-start his life.

During Devanney's trial the teenager said in her victim impact statement: "He has taken so much from me and I will never be able to live a normal life because of that vile creature."

"I have never despised anyone in my life, except this person. I am writing this today with pure hatred and sorrow in my heart."

A garda detective gave evidence in court that after the anonymous Snapchat game of 'Shift or Pass' the two made direct contact and exchanged photos.

The pair met in person shortly afterwards and the majority of the counts of sexual assault took place at Devanney's family home.

The age difference between the two was four-and-a-half years.

At the Ennis Circuit Court hearing, Judge Brian O'Callaghan told Devanney, formerly of Ballycasey, Shannon, that he "had preyed on a particularly young and vulnerable victim".

He noted that it was stated during the sentencing hearing that Devanney did not use force when sexually assaulting the 12-year-old girl.

"But each and every one of these acts of sexual assault were acts of violence. They invaded the bodily integrity of a 12-year-old girl. Nothing could be more violent than that," he said.

The judge also stated that in two of the assaults, "it was planned, premeditated and systematic in its approach. There was nothing off-the-cuff about this offending".

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Devanney had abused the girl for his own sexual gratification.

"You knew that she was a vulnerable person, not only because of her age but because of other factors and yet still you continued with the offending."

"This went well beyond taking advantage of a young girl who had a crush on you. It went well beyond opportunism."

Judge O'Callaghan stated that Mr Devanney's conduct had caused "profound hurt and damage" to the victim.

He said Devanney's young age and immaturity at the time of offending "played some role and doesn't excuse your conduct and may explain why you behaved in such a manner".

"That can't absolve you from responsibility from causing damage to a young lady. There comes a time when no matter what age we are that we have to pay for the damage caused to someone else."

Devanney's identity had not been made public until the final hearing in July 2020 when the victim of the assaults asked Devanney be named.

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Devanney carries his belongings

Devanney carries his belongings

Devanney carries his belongings

A three-and-a-half year prison term, with the final 18 months suspended, was imposed and Devanney was placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

The original sentence hearing took place in February 2020 but Devanney was unable to attend in person as he was in Covid-19 lockdown in France.

The judge in the case had retired when he came back to court in July 2020 before Judge O'Callaghan, when it was heard Devanney was now engaged to the woman he was living with in France.

The judge said that the culpability level was below the mid-range due to Devanney's age and noted that a report found the risk of him re-offending to be very low.

However, he said that it would be wholly and completely wrong not to impose a prison term.

Then aged 17, the person targeted by Devanney was in court where an audio recording of her victim impact statement she made the previous February was played to the court.

Under the rules of the sex offenders' register Devanney has seven days from his release date to inform gardai of his new address.

If a registered offender plans to leave the country they must also inform the gardai and any breach of the rules can lead to prison sentence of up to five years.

Only gardai have access to the sex offenders' list and it cannot be accessed by people to find out if a convicted sex offender is living in their area.

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Sicko Devanney had been living in France with a woman

Sicko Devanney had been living in France with a woman

Sicko Devanney had been living in France with a woman

Last November, Justice Minister Helen McEntee published the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill, which would allow for offenders to be electronically tagged and monitored.

It would also allow gardai to warn members of the public about convicted sex offenders living in their area in certain circumstances.

More than 1,700 people are subject to reporting requirements under Ireland's existing laws, with hundreds more prisoners due to be monitored on their release.

Under tighter rules, which are not yet in force, offenders would have to notify gardai of any change of address within three days instead of the current seven.

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