Donegal artist who sexually exploited 15-year-old girl to be sentenced next month

 

A Donegal artist who sexually exploited a 15-year-old girl he met on a youth mental health website will be sentenced next month.

The court heard the accused watched the victim's favourite film, Frozen, with her before trying to have sex with her.

The 36-year-old Donegal man, described by the defence as a “vulnerable” person with few social skills, viewed the teenager as his girlfriend, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday.

Garda Maria Cox told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting, that the then 34-year-old man was living in Dublin in late 2014 when he got chatting to the teenager on Talklife, a messaging app for young people struggling with mental health issues.

In January 2015, he invited the girl to come to his friend's apartment in Dublin, as his friend was away. The pair met at 9am on January 3, went to the apartment, drank tea and watched the film, Frozen.

They then went into the bedroom and engaged in some sexual acts and he tried to have sex with her but she was “too tense and afraid”, the court heard.

In a victim impact statement read out in court by Ms Brennan, the girl, who was in court for the sentence hearing, said she found it hard to cope after the incident.

The man, who has no previous convictions, told gardaí that he had bonded with the girl as they both suffered from depression.

Defence barrister, Tara Burns SC, said the man wished to apologise to the victim, whom he viewed as his girlfriend. She submitted that he felt it was a “serious relationship”.

She urged Judge Melanie Greally to impose as lenient a sentence as possible.

The man pleaded guilty to one count of sexually exploiting a child in a Dublin apartment between January 3 and 4, 2015. Another count of meeting a child for the purpose of child exploitation was taken into account.

This is a child grooming offence, the court heard. He will be sentenced on February 17.