A man who sexually assaulted his two young cousins when he was a teenager has been jailed for four years.
The 22-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the victims, pleaded guilty to three counts of raping one boy on unknown dates between December 2016 and January 2019. The victim was aged between six and nine and a half years old at this time.
The man also pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault on an unknown date between June 2014 and September 2016 relating to a second boy, who was aged between 10 and 12 at that time.
The defendant was aged between 12 and 16 at the time of the offending. He has no previous convictions and has not come to the attention of gardaí before, the court heard.
The investigating garda told the court that in June 2017, the first boy told his mother about his cousin sexually abusing him.
The defendant, accompanied by his father, visited the first victim's home where he made admissions and apologised in front of the child's mother and her partner.
However, the child did not make a formal statement to gardaí at this point and the situation was referred to Tusla.
At a family event in 2018, the boy became aware that his cousin had also been subjected to a similar experience. The second victim's mother was told and she contacted gardaí.
Both boys were formally interviewed by gardaí in 2019.
The court heard the accused regularly babysat the first victim at his home. The boy said the accused would tell him they were going to “do a thing” and ask him to remove his clothing below the waist and get on all fours.
The accused told the victim the acts would help him with his asthma symptoms, the court heard.
The detective told the court it is believed that this occurred around 11 times, though exact times and dates could not be established.
In relation to the second victim, he and his cousin were sleeping over at the accused's house. The first victim had been sharing a bunk bed with the accused, but left.
The second victim went to the accused's bunk and was asked if he wanted to “do stuff” and “to try something” before abusing him.
Sentencing the man on Monday, Ms Justice Tara Burns said that in relation to the first child, the man had engaged in “personal violation of the highest order”, abusing him a number of times from when he was only six-years-old.
She said he abused his trust as a babysitter and engaged in deceitful behaviour by pretending to the child that his actions would help the boy's asthma.
In relation to both children, the judge noted the disparity in age between the defendant and his young cousins, adding that if the man had committed the crimes as an adult, she would have imposed a jail term of 10 years.
She took into account a number of mitigating factors including his remorse, his early guilty pleas and his young age at the time of the offending before handing down a six-year sentence with two years suspended.
The final two years were suspended on a number of conditions including that the man gets professional counselling and that he has no unsupervised access to children.
'Destroyed the family'
Victim impact statements were made by both boys, who were represented in court by an aunt, but were not read to the court.
Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, told the court that the first victim suffered from anxiety and other mental health issues as a result of the accused's actions.
He said that the second victim described the accused as “sneaky” and “dishonest”. The boy had also highlighted how the accused's actions had destroyed the family.
The court heard the accused was interviewed by gardaí and arrested in 2019. Under cross-examination by defence counsel, the investigating garda agreed the accused had been co-operative.
The garda added that the defendant has a close relationship with his father, who attended all interviews with him.
Defence counsel said the accused had been sexually abused himself as a young child by a third party.
The investigating garda said he could find no record of a complaint to gardaí or Tusla, but the accused's counsel explained his parents decided not to make a formal report.
In mitigation, defence counsel said the man, who have a close bond with his family, was a teenager at the time of the offending.
He had a stressful time in school, was socially introverted and bullied in part due to his sexuality, his counsel added.
The court also heard that he had started a college course, but has he dropped out and is currently unemployed.
Defence counsel highlighted that family bonds had been broken by the man's actions.
A psychological report was handed in which outlined that the accused has a “distorted scheme of sexual interactions”. The accused is now in a relationship.
A letter from the accused, his father and letters of apology to his victims were handed to the court.
Defence counsel said the accused apologised and would always regret his actions.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800-77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.