AN 18-month jail term was imposed on a 21-year-old man who sexually assaulted an extremely vulnerable 14-year-old girl after two weeks of sending her explicit messages and images by Facebook.
A sentence of four years, with the last two-and-a-half-years suspended, was imposed on the accused man, Mark McGann of no fixed address, by Judge Brian O’Callaghan.
Judge O’Callaghan said to the accused at Cork Circuit Criminal Court: “You pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a young lady of 14 years of age. You sent Facebook images of an explicit nature to the same young lady.
“The background is that first and foremost it appears to have been a pre-arranged meeting between both of you. While it may have been a consensual arrangement, in the loosest term as this young lady was of an age where her consent was irrelevant, but it got out of hand and you did not listen to the young lady when she asked you to stop.
“There is some question of whether you knew her age or not. The bottom line is that you pleaded guilty and as far as the court is concerned you were aware of her age.
“The messaging appears to indicate affectionate interchange between you both which again got out of hand.
“She was 14, you were 21. You should have known better. You frightened this young lady. She felt threatened. Her very being was attacked by you. She placed her trust in you and trusted you by agreeing to meet you. Quite obviously you breached that trust and followed it up with the Facebook messaging.
“In mitigation, there is your early plea, your genuine remorse. The (probation) report puts you at a low risk of re-offending.”
Detective Garda Rachel McGrath testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that McGann first met the 14-year-old and followed this up with contact through Facebook.
“She said she was 15, going on 16, but told him soon afterwards she was in fact 14.
“He sent two naked frontal images of himself to her and requested the same from her but she declined. This was sent to her through her Facebook account.
“He arranged to meet her. She was in her school uniform. They French-kissed on a laneway. He placed his hands on her breast and gave her love-bites on her neck and breast and tried to place his hand inside her underwear (but did not),” Det. Garda McGrath said.
“A complaint was made and he was arrested and detained for questioning. He proceeded to make admissions,” the detective said.
Nothing can be reported that would identify the injured part in the case. Prosecution barrister, Imelda Kelly, described the victim as particularly vulnerable. The detective agreed and said she was extremely vulnerable.
In apology, McGann said: “I would like to apologise for all that has happened. I am truly sorry for everything” he said.
Defence barrister, John Devlin, suggested that the defendant was co-operative and respectful when questioned. Det Garda McGrath agreed.
Det Garda McGrath said that the messaging contact was intense over a short period, with about 200 messages exchanged over a fortnight, many of the messages being of a sexual nature.
The sexual assault was carried out in May 2017. The Facebook messages, including indecent words and obscene images, — the second charge to which he pleaded guilty — were sent in the fortnight before the sexual assault.