The judge has begun his summing up to the jury in the trial of a 25-year-old man accused of illegal sex under anti-rape legislation with a 13-year-old girl.
It’s the third day of the trial at Donegal Circuit Court where the man has pleaded not guilty.
The offence was alleged to have happened in the defendant’s car when he was 18 on 25th October 2003 in a south County Donegal car park.
He admitted having sex but he said before the jury of seven women and five men that he believed the girl was 18 or 19 at the time.
The prosecution said it was not suggested the defendant coerced the girl into sex.. The offence was that the girl at the time was too young to be legally capable of consenting to sex.
Judge John O’Hagan said that in recent years the Supreme Court ruled that a mistake about the age of a young person could be raised by the defence.
If the jury concluded from the evidence that there was a mistake then the defendant should be given the benefit of the doubt. But if they rejected it then they must convict.
The judge is still delivering his summary and is expected to send the jury out to consider their evidence this afternoon.
Prosecution counsel Eileen O’Leary told the jury in her summary that in law a young person was still a child under the age of 17. The girl, at 13, was significantly under the legal age.
The defendant definitely knew her age as he was going out with a girl of 15 and he would have known she was younger.
Defence counsel Hugo Hynes said that the law gave the defendant allowance for a genuine mistake and he believed the girl was older than him.