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Home / News / Teen who raped boy, 6, sentenced to 16 months detention

Teen who raped boy, 6, sentenced to 16 months detention

A teenager who raped a six-year-old boy who was his neighbour has been sentenced to 16 months detention.

The now 17-year-old, who cannot be identified because of his age, had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of rape on dates between July 2019 and October 2021. He was 13 years old when the offending began and continued until he was 15. The victim was aged between six and nine at the time.

The judge adjourned sentencing on the second offence until after his 18th birthday because the law does not allow for suspended sentences in the case of juveniles. Mr Justice Paul McDermott criticised the absence of legislation to allow for suspended sentences for child offenders and said the process would be a lot more straightforward if the law was changed.

The court heard the offences came to light when a man saw the two boys in an outdoor communal area of a residential complex.

The man shouted after seeing the younger boy with his tracksuit bottoms down and the older boy standing behind him. The boys ran away but the witness told the victim’s mother what he had seen. The boy originally told his mother nothing had happened but later told gardaí he was out playing when the teenager said he had a surprise for him.

He said he was brought to the communal area and told to close his eyes and pull his trousers down. The teenager then raped him. He said this occurred around four times. He said he refused on one occasion and started crying, but the teenager slapped him on the head.

Gardaí spoke to the defendant at the scene and while he admitted being there, he denied any sexual activity. He attended voluntarily for interview at a garda station with his father and denied the allegations. He later pleaded guilty.

In a victim impact statement read to the court at a previous hearing, the victim’s mother said her son “had trust in everyone” in the area, as did she, including the teenager.

She described the teenager’s actions as “inexcusable” and said they will never be forgotten or forgiven.

She described her son as a kind, happy and bubbly child who was the “life and soul of any party” and involved in many local activities.

She said her son “wanted to fit in and be liked” and they as a family had “no reason” to be concerned about the boy in the teenager’s company as they trusted him.

She said their trust in their neighbours has been “shattered” resulting in a feeling of isolation and that what happened has also had an impact on a “close-knit community” they are part of.

Her son is “still my happy boy”, but she said she is concerned for his future. The court heard that the boy is seeing a counsellor in school, but does not wish to dwell on the abuse.

At the same hearing defence counsel James Dwyer said the teenager is currently doing his Leaving Certificate and wishes to continue his education. He had challenging behaviour when he was younger and was referred for psychological assessment. His parents were in court to support him.

He said the probation report outlines that the teenager acknowledges the trauma and shame caused to the boy and that he was too young to consent.

He asked the court to take into consideration her client’s guilty plea, his young age at the time and the significance to a teenager of the passage of time since the offending occurred

A psychological report was handed to the court, which outlined that the teenager needs to work on his insight into his offending and victim empathy.

Passing sentence today Mr Justice Paul McDermott told the defendant he would have to address the issue of responsibility for his actions and an “appropriate safety plan” should be put in place to ensure against a risk of further offending.

He said there was a lack of insight and understanding or engagement about the harm caused. The judge said it was clear there was a “great deal of work to be done” by the defendant for his own good and to the benefit to society to deal with any possible further risk of offending if it exists.

Noting that the teenager wants to complete his Leaving Certificate, he said he should be able to do so while in detention.

He said the aggravating factors in the case were the victim’s age and the way in which the offences were committed.

“You clearly knew it was wrong, you exploited the age difference and did very real damage to the child and his family and that will continue into the future.”

In mitigation he took into account the defendant’s early guilty plea and his age at the time of the offending and said he was a “very young teenager” when it started. He also noted the “shame and embarrassment” expressed by the teenager who has no previous convictions.

He said the appropriate sentence was one of three years with the final 20 months suspended but the dilemma was created by a lack of legislation to allow for suspended sentences in juvenile cases. Judge McDermott said to enable him to impose a suspended sentence he would adjourn sentence on the second conviction until after the boy’s 18th birthday.

The suspension of the sentence would be under very strict conditions including that he engage with all courses and programmes required by the probation service. He will also be registered as a sex offender.

The judge said the victim was a very young child and was effectively “tricked” into complying with what the defendant wanted to do. That would result in a blight on his life. The company of a neighbour’s child should have been a positive thing but it turned out to be “the very opposite with devastating consequences”.

While detention should be a last resort in the case of juvenile offenders, the judge said the court has to take into account the best interests of the offender, the victim and the protection of society. The law dictates that it is desirable that a young offender’s training and education is not disrupted and that family relationships are preserved. Judge McDermott said sometimes that is not possible given the nature of certain offences and this was one such case.

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