A court ruling has been heavily criticised by the Director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre Mary Crilly after a teenager was given a five-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to raping his eight-year-old niece.
The High Court heard that the youth had acted out pornographic scenes that he had been viewing since the age of nine or 10.
Now 19 years old, the youth, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has pleaded guilty to seven Section 4 rapes and ten sexual assault offences as well as the sending of offensive texts to his niece.
The offences took place between May 2016 and April 2019, during which, the youth was 14 and 17 years old while the victim was eight and 11 years old.
The victim had stated that the youth had threatened to do what he was doing to her to her little sister and that she felt proud to protect her younger siblings from him.
Mary Crilly said that there needs to be more guidelines in place in relation to sexual assault and rape cases before the courts.
Crilly stated, “I’ve always believed if someone is found guilty of child sexual abuse that they have to get mandatory sentences, then after that the Judge can use whatever discretion they want. The idea of a suspended sentence for abusing a child is just beyond belief,”.
She added that she hopes the Director of Public Prosecutions appeals the leniency of the sentence in the case.
The conditions for the youth’s suspended sentence include not reoffending and cooperating with The Probation Service, attends appropriate appointments, notifies gardaí of any changes to his address, engages with programmes and therapies that are aimed at reducing his risk of re-offending and liaises with the education and employment services.
He was also ordered to not be in the company of children while unsupervised or to go anywhere near the victim.
He was ordered by Ms. Justice Murphy to undergo a psychiatric assessment and explore the possibilities of an autism diagnosis.
“Having observed this young man’s psychological vulnerability a prison term might crush him rather than foster his rehabilitation. He has demonstrated a willingness to address his deviance,”.
Ms. Murphy stated, “I think that with the best will in the world the supports this young man needs might not be available within the prison system,” while adding that the State have a right to appeal her decision.
IMAGE – “Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin.” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by infomatique