A 55-year-old Laois man who pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl does not understand the seriousness of his offending, the circuit court has ruled.
The man, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to sexual assault at a location in Laois between April 1, 2014 and May 31, 2014.
Judge Keenan Johnson adjourned the case for further details before sentencing.
Garda Killian Fitzharris gave evidence, along with State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, that the victim’s mother contacted the gardaí to report that the accused had touched her daughter, who was 14 at the time, in an inappropriate manner.
On a number of occasions the accused, who was 53 at the time, kissed and hugged the girl, which led to an incident in which he lifted her t-shirt and began to kiss her breast, and also placed his hand in her underwear. He also opened her clothing.
When arrested, the accused admitted he “had a bit of a fling” with the injured party.
Whilst not disputing there had been sexual contact, his description was that the injured party had been more proactive.
The accused did accept that that it had been wrong on his part, however.
Garda Fitzharris said that the injured party “could not physically or emotionally face the court”, but she had provided a victim impact statement.
In her statement, the girl said that her life had changed because of the abuse, and she has more anger than normal for a teenager.
She said she had been considering suicide.
Taking the witness box, the accused said: “I’m very sorry for what I done, I just was being a good friend. I was going through certain circumstances myself at the time. I apologise for all the hassle.”
Judge Johnson asked him did he appreciate the significance of what he had done, to which the accused replied that he would have to be more capable and responsible around people.
The judge then asked did he realise the huge impact the abuse had on the injured party, to which the accused replied: “Ah yes, financial.”
“And emotional,” retorted Judge Johnson.
“Ah yes, I realise that,” replied the accused.
In mitigation, Mr Shortt said that his client’s relationship with his wife seemed to have strained at the time of the offence, which was the “human explanation” for what had happened.
He said that a very aggravating factor was that the injured party was a minor and vulnerable, and there had been a breach of trust.
Mr Shortt also drew attention to a psychiatric report which highlighted issues with the accused’s cognitive abilities.
“I don’t think he appreciates the seriousness of this, that was obvious from his testimony,” said Judge Johnson, adding that he was not faulting the accused for this as it was down to his cognitive abilities.
“It’s clear to me he has no appreciation of the gravity of the situation, he doesn’t understand the seriousness of the offence.”
Judge Johnson ruled that he did not have a clear picture of the impact of the offence. He added, however, that he did not want to add to the victim’s trauma and emphasised that she was not on trial.
The judge said that more inquiries had to be made, and advised defence to look about getting group therapy for the accused.
The matter was put back to November 30.