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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 3 April, 2020

Man who went on the run during trial for sexual abuse begins jail term

The girl was aged between five and eight years old at the time, while he was aged between 14 and 18 years old.

The man was brought before the Central Criminal Court yesterday.
The man was brought before the Central Criminal Court yesterday.
Image: Shutterstock/Pierre-Olivier

A DUBLIN MAN who went on the run during his trial for sexually abusing his cousin’s child and was sentenced to seven years in his absence last year has been sent to jail to begin the term. 

The 24-year-old man had pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of sexual assault at two locations in Dublin, on dates between June 2008 and October 2011. The girl was aged between five and eight years old at the time, while he was aged between 14 and 18 years old. 

A jury of four women and eight men found the man guilty on all counts by unanimous verdict after a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court in May 2018. 

The man, who cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity, went missing just before the jury delivered the verdict and has been “at large” since. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest. 

In December 2018, the state told Mr Justice Michael White that gardaí had not been able to execute the bench warrant and wished to proceed to sentence in the man’s absence. 

Mr Justice White imposed a seven years sentence on the man on 4 December 2018. 

Yesterday the man was brought before the Central Criminal Court on foot of the bench warrant. 

Mr Justice White told the man that a seven year sentence had been imposed on him in his absence and that he would begin serving that term from his apprehension which was formally recorded as yesterday. 

He told the man if he wished to appeal the sentence he would need to apply for an enlargement of time. Mr Justice White cancelled the bench warrant. 

At the sentence hearing in December 2018, the court heard that the victim’s mother had taken the defendant, her cousin, into her home as he was constantly being asked to leave his own house. 

While living with them, the man babysat his cousin’s children which was when the offending took place. The abuse involved him touching the child’s breasts, genital area and putting his head in her genital area. 

The investigating garda told Anthony Sammon SC, prosecuting, that a victim impact statement from the now teenager stated that she has been going to counselling every week for three years. She said she didn’t go out for weeks, skipped school and often stayed in the school office with teachers rather than attend class. 

She had trouble eating and sleeping and she said she was bullied for missing classes. 

“I still don’t sleep the best. I get upset and angry very easily. I lost loads of friends. I cry a lot,” the girl’s statement said. 

The man was arrested to investigate the allegations but made no admissions during interview. The garda said in December 2018 the man was still “at large” and was believed to be sleeping rough in Dublin city. 

Mr Justice White noted in December 2018 that as the man was still on the run, the seven-year jail sentence would not start until his ultimate arrest.

He noted from a garda statement, prepared by the victim’s mother, that she felt sorry for her cousin and let him stay with her “out of kindness”.

The judge said that the abuse of the girl therefore represented a “breach of trust”. He added that it was a “fully contested trial” and that the offences had been carried out over a number of years on a very young child. 

“It is obvious that his youth is the most mitigating factor,” Mr Justice White said, noting that the man himself was a minor himself when he abused the child.

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Sonya McLean and Fiona Ferguson

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