A 53-YEAR-old man was last week given a ten-month sentence for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl.
The offence was committed in Laois on December 1 last year and the district court in Portlaoise heard that the injured party was touched on her breasts and private area during an assault that lasted 20 minutes.
Defence for the man was Mr Declan Breen.
Mr Breen said that his client is a single man who lives alone in a rural area, in the vicinity of the injured party. The man has a learning disability and attended St Francis School in Portlaoise.
“He’s completely at a loss to explain how this happened,” said Mr Breen. “It was a once-off incident, there’s been no repeat since.”
Mr Breen said that the incident was in part due to his client’s learning disability and the man only has a partial insight to what he had done, although he knows right from wrong and has an understanding of the affect of his behaviour on the victim.
Mr Breen described it as “a very low level of behaviour” and “the impact was not as bad as one might have expected”.
He said that senior members of his client’s family have taken the man under their wing, as there are clearly psychiatric issues at play.
“He is absolutely afraid of becoming involved in this kind of behaviour again,” said Mr Breen. “The elder members of his family are ‘sitting on him’ and monitoring him, the priority is that there’s no repeat of this behaviour.”
Judge Catherine Staines read a statement on the injured party and described the incident as a serious sexual assault. She noted that the 11-year-old girl had been touched on her breasts and private area for around 20 minutes and the girl had also been warned by the man not to tell anybody.
As the Director of Public Prosecutions had directed that the matter could be dealt with in the district court, Judge Staines said she was reluctantly accepting jurisdiction.
The judge imposed a ten-month sentence. Recognizance was fixed in the event of an appeal, on his own bond of €100 and an independent cash surety of €200.