A teenage girl who was raped and sexually assaulted by two teenagers in a dark country lane has told the Central Criminal Court that she developed an eating disorder after the attacks “as a way of killing herself slowly”.
The two defendants, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of the victim, were convicted last January of six out of eight charges.
The older defendant, who was 17 at the time, was convicted on one count of rape, one of oral rape and two of sexual assaulting the then 16-year-old girl.
The younger offender, who was 15 at the time, was found guilty of one count of oral rape and one of sexual assault. Some of the offences were committed simultaneously.
The offending took place in the early hours of the night of July 26th, 2020 in an isolated area near a Co Kerry town.
The conviction followed a jury trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Tralee earlier this year, with the jury failed to reach a verdict on two counts.
The court heard that the girl was “very taken” with the older boy and that on the night of the offending, she and a friend sneaked out of her home at 1:30am, having arranged to meet the two convicted teenagers and another teenager.
The victim had consumed around five cans of cider and three-quarters of a bottle of wine and was in a good mood and “a bit wobbly”, the court heard.
The offences occurred over the following two-and-a-half hours, at a time when the girl described herself as being drunk, clueless and passing in and out of consciousness.
At one point the victim fell into a ditch and was pulled up, but the boys continued to sexually assault her after this.
She was clearly intoxicated and was seen to be nearly passing out during the attacks, Justice Michael McGrath said on Thursday.
Justice McGrath sentenced the older offender, now aged 19, to a prison term of five years and five months. He suspended the final year on condition that he keep the peace and engage with the Probation Service.
He sentenced the younger offender, now aged 17, to three years detention, backdated to July 31st last. Neither defendant has any previous offending.
The judge said these were serious offences and described rape as “an insult to a woman's dignity”.
He said it was clear that great harm was occasioned on the victim as a result of the actions of the defendants.
The judge said the offenders had taken advantage of the victim's level of inebriation. He said one of the aggravating factors was the fact that the offenders had acted together though he said he was satisfied on the evidence it did not amount to a gang rape.
He said he was taking into consideration the fact that the offenders were legally children at the time of the offending and the fact of their young age now, their expressions of remorse and their acceptance of the jury verdicts.
In her victim impact report, the victim said that continues to suffer panic attacks and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Justice McGrath noted that the victim dropped out of school, not completing her Leaving Cert and dropped most of her friends “because I couldn’t deal with the way everyone was talking about it after it happened”.
The woman said she takes sleeping tablets to “knock herself out” so she doesn’t have to “feel the pain of life”. She said she had taken 1,000 tablets, had 156 hours of counselling and been hospitalised for 112 days since the assault.
She said her quality of life had changed so much since the attack.
"I was always smiling and fine, before the night of the rape and sexual assault. I was happy growing up, but that night changed everything. I have been depressed since.
"I was disrespected in a way I would never have done to anyone. What was done to me took me in to the worst times of my life. It is still impacting on me.
“The eating disorder was a way of killing myself slowly, which I wanted to do because of how disgusted I felt because of what was done to me.
"I wanted to hurt myself slowly because I wanted to take the anger out of my body because I couldn’t change what happened,” she said.
Her eating disorder became so bad that she ended up being hospitalised in a psychiatric unit, after her organs began to fail, the court heard.
Justice McGrath said if the offenders had been adults at the time of offending, he would have set a headline sentence of ten years for the older offender and eight years for the younger one.
He said that given the fact that they were legally children at the time, the appropriate headline sentence for the older offender is six years and eight months, and for the younger offender, four years.
He reduced this to the imposed sentences after taking into consideration the mitigation, including the lack of previous criminal offending, the acceptance of the jury verdicts and the expressions of remorse by both offenders.
The case was delayed coming to trial because of the pandemic and lockdown, the court heard.
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.