Cork court hears how schoolgirl was coaxed into a secluded area by a 57-year-old sex offender

Cork court hears how schoolgirl was coaxed into a secluded area by a 57-year-old sex offender

A SCHOOLGIRL was coaxed from her path home by a middle-aged man with a sex abuse conviction who proceeded to sexually assault her and today the DPP claimed that six months in jail was not long enough for the crime.

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the appropriate sentence was one of three years with the last year suspended. 

He said that the two years to be served now by the accused should take account of the time already served for the crime.

The warrant for the prison sentence is to issue on January 6 and the accused is to present with the authorities for the commencement of the sentence in one month’s time.

Lily Buckley, barrister on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, submitted that the sentence of six months in prison was unduly lenient.

Because the accused lives in the same neighbourhood as the child who was abused there is an order that no details be published which would identify the parties.

The primary schoolgirl was on her way home from school when the accused, who was 57 at the time, approached her. 

He sought to put her at ease by making reference to her father and her uncle and he then coaxed her into a secluded area. 

Mr Justice Birmingham said that there was, in effect, grooming of the child being carried out by the accused on the day as he asked her about a boy she had a crush on in her school. 

He then told the girl what she should do with this boy and he hugged her first and then put his hand inside her clothes and digitally penetrated her vagina.

The child wrote a letter to the sentencing judge in which she said, “I did not know what he was doing to me or why he was doing it to me. I was afraid. I froze. I was terrified I would meet him again on the street and he would do it again.” 

She suggested it had become known in school and she had lost her friends. 

She said her family were angry about it happening to her.

Mr Justice Birmingham said today that the letter the child wrote to the sentencing judge in the circuit court concluded by wishing the judge a happy Christmas.

Defence senior counsel Mark Nicholas said that while the sentence of six months was clearly lenient the issue was whether it was unduly so, and in breach a legal principle of sentencing, and he suggested it was not.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the original sentence failed to reflect the gravity of the offending behaviour as he said the Court of Appeal decision was to imposed three years with the last year suspended.

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