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Man who raped girl after plying her with alcohol jailed

A man who raped a teenage girl in a park after plying her with alcohol and telling her “age is just a number” has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Nicolas Horvath, 28, formerly of Stonecourt, Co Roscommon, pleaded guilty to one count of rape on 11 December 2020. He has been in custody since he was extradited from Slovakia in 2022.

The victim was 16 at the time and was socialising and drinking alcohol in a park with her friends when the man and his friend joined them. They were unknown to each other prior to this, the court heard.

Horvath and his friend got more alcohol, and the group continued to drink.

He started talking to the girl, who told him she was 16. He replied “age is just a number”, and encouraged her to drink more alcohol.

A local garda told Gerard Clarke SC, prosecuting, that the conversation became sexual, with the man asking the girl if she “would like sex with two dicks” and if she liked “big dicks”.

Horvath placed his hand into her underwear, then put her hand into his underwear. He took her to a more secluded area of the park, where he raped her. The victim told the man no and tried to push him away.

One of her female friends found them, and Horvath got up when she shone the torch on her phone at them.

The victim later told her mother, and a complaint was then made to gardaí. They searched Horvath’s home a few days later, seizing items of clothing which matched CCTV.

Horvath left the jurisdiction shortly after and has been in custody since he was extradited back to Ireland in December 2022 on a European Arrest Warrant.

Imposing sentence today, Ms Justice Melanie Greally said there were a number of aggravating factors in the case, including the fact the man was aware of the youth of the girl and the age difference between them, that there was an element of sexual exploitation in the crime and that he used alcohol to impair her judgment.

She noted Horvath engaged in “sexually aggressive, graphic, vulgar and age-inappropriate” language with the child, plied her with alcohol to the point where she felt she couldn’t refuse and then took her to a secluded spot where he raped her. She noted it has had a serious effect on her.

Ms Justice Greally took into account a number of mitigating factors, including that Horvath has been separated from his wife and children who live in Slovakia, the fact he has no relevant previous convictions, his guilty plea and – to a limited degree – the remorse he has expressed.

She noted he has expressed his intention to return to his native Slovakia upon his release. She handed down a sentence of six-and-a-half years and suspended the final year on a number of conditions, including that the man leave the jurisdiction within seven days of his release and not return for 15 years.

In a victim impact statement read to the court at a previous hearing, the girl said she was left with a feeling of “shame, sadness, anger and disgust all in one” after the rape.

She said she felt her body “did not belong to me” and attends therapy to deal with panic attacks.

She said the rape was “degrading” and “fundamentally changes a person to their core”, describing it as the “most dehumanising and humiliating thing” that can happen.

The man has five previous convictions for minor road traffic offences.

The garda agreed with Kenneth Fogarty SC, defending, that alcohol was “part of the occasion” before his client became involved.

It was further accepted that he has no previous convictions for sexual or violent offending, has been in custody since his return to Ireland and is an enhanced prisoner.

He put it to the garda that Horvath has a work history in Ireland; however, the witness was unable to confirm this as she said there are no records of Horvath working here. The garda agreed that the man’s guilty plea was helpful to the prosecution.

Mr Fogarty told the court his instructions were that his client left the jurisdiction due to his child’s health issue. He has two young children who are living abroad with his partner.

A letter of apology from Horvath was read to the court. He then took the stand and told the court he accepts responsibility for his actions and understands the hurt he has caused the victim.

When asked by Mr Fogarty how he would feel if something similar happened to his daughter, he replied through an interpreter: “I understand that very well”.

The man said he wishes to return to his family and provide for his young children once he has served his sentence.

The victim had been present in court for the sentencing hearing but left when Horvath took the stand.

Mr Fogarty suggested to the court that a probation report might be regarded as “unhelpful” as he said the assessments were affected by language difficulties. He asked the court to give weight to his client’s apologies and expression of remorse.

He said other mitigation included Horvath’s guilty plea, the absence of violence, the impact of his absence on his family and the difficulties for a foreign national in prison here.

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