A judge has said that a child rapist used his membership of a voluntary paramedic organisation to target two boys who he then drugged and sexually assaulted before jailing him for 11 years.
In one attack the 29-year-old Co Kildare man used an oxygen mask to force one 15-year-old victim to inhale a pain relief drug before sexually assaulting him. In a second attack the accused raped the unconscious child while another man recorded it on his mobile phone.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victims, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to oral rape of one boy at a place in Co Laois on May 7, 2018.
He also admitted meeting the child for the purpose of sexual exploitation and aiding and abetting in the production of child pornography.
He also pleaded guilty to sexual assault and sexual exploitation of another child on May 18, 2018 at a place in south Dublin and in the Wicklow mountains. Finally, he admitted stealing items, including a vial of Penthrox and a carbon dioxide chamber from Naas racecourse on an unknown date in 2018.
Penthrox is an analgesic used by medical practitioners, the defence forces, ambulance paramedics, sports clubs and surf lifesavers to administer emergency pain relief.
It is administered by attaching a vial of the liquid drug to a pipe-like device called a green whistle, which is then used to inhale the drug.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott adjourned the case on Monday after hearing details of the offending.
Today, Wednesday, May 27 he imposed an 11-year prison term, with 18 months suspended, after saying that the attacks were planned in a predatory way where the man used his membership of the voluntary organisation to cultivate the trust of the victims and their families.
He said that the use of a drug to debilitate the victim was a particularly aggravating feature of this case.
The judge described as sinister the making of a permanent video record. He said the men made the video with cold and ruthless pursuit and with an indifference to the welfare of the victim in that incident.
He said it was very damaging to the victim, who was bound to be upset by the knowledge of its existence.
Mr Justice McDermott said these attacks were egregious breaches of trust by the men of the boys and their families, who believed the victims were safe with these men.
He said the man used his membership of the voluntary paramedic organisation to lure the victims and their family into a false sense of security.
The judge said that while the man's good work as a member of voluntary organisations was a mitigating factor in his favour, he choose to use the network of friendship gained through these organisations “as a vehicle to target the two boys”.
He said the defendant took a lead role in the procurement of the victims and of the drug and in the planning of the attacks.
He and his accomplice took care that the boys had consumed enough of the drug to render them incapable to a point where the men “could do what they pleased” with them, Mr Justice McDermott said.
He imposed an overall sentence of eleven years. He suspended the last 18 months for a period of two years on condition the man not approach either victim, abstain from any employment involving care or supervision of children and attend Probation Service treatment programmes for the protection of potential future victims.
The court heard that a Probation Service report assessed the man as being at a high risk of re-offending. The report stated that during assessment the man showed no insight into the harm caused by his actions and was unable to accept that he manipulated the victims.
Defence counsel James Dwyer SC submitted his client expressed regret for his actions and the damage he had done.
He said he now accepts completely the victim's accounts and is no longer making any case that the victims instigated sexual activity. After his arrest he had told gardaí that one of the victims had initiated the sex and had been coherent at all times.
The court heard that on two occasions the man went to the homes of the victims and picked them up in a car driven by a second man. He then administered the drug by either holding the whistle to the victim's mouth or holding an oxygen mask to their face.
On each occasion the victim was knocked out and awoke to find the man sexually assaulting him.
The court heard that before the assaults the man had carried out internet searches such as “nitrous oxide side effects”, “Penthrox and knock out”, and “how much Methoxyflurane does it take to knock you out”.
Methoxyflurane is the active ingredient in Penthrox, the court heard.
After the complainants came forward the defendant was suspended from the paramedic organisation and suspended from a nursing course he was on. The court heard he had been doing a placement at a national children's hospital.
Medical evidence was given which stated that Penthrox should not be administered to anyone under the age of 18. The court heard that the whistle device used by the man had been altered so that a filter had been removed.
Dr Aidan McGoldrick said this alteration meant the effects of the pain relief drug would be four times more potent and would cause memory loss.
Mr Justice McDermott also imposed a two year period of post release supervision on the man, after noting “he has demonstrated a worrying capacity and willingness to seek out young children for his own gratification”.
Additional copy from sentence hearing on Monday, May 25.
In a victim impact statement the mother of the second victim said her son was too embarrassed to come to court to give his own statement.
She said her son had been a typical teenager and was preparing to sit his Junior Cert exam in May 2018. She said since the attack he has had difficulties in school and had to go to counselling.
She said the night of the assaults will haunt her and her son for the rest of their lives. She said the defendant used his position of responsibility to gain access to controlled drugs in order to carry out horrendous acts of assault against a child.
She asked how the man was able to steal a drug “that should have been locked away”, saying “what if he reacted badly (to the drug) or didn't come around”.
Garda Mairead Hannon told the court that the first victim was 15 years old when the man texted him and asked to meet. The man drove to the child's home in Laois and the boy got into the car, which was driven by another man.
The accused gave the teenage the “green whistle” with the drug and told him it was an anaesthetic and it would make him high.
In his later statement to gardaí the boy said he was interested in smoking cannabis at the time so he agreed to try this drug. He said he felt loopy and began “blacking in and out” of consciousness.
The court heard the accused then began to hold the whistle on the boy's face while the two men shouted at him to “take it”.
The victim told gardaí that when he “came to” the car was stopped in a secluded business park but he wasn't sure where he was. He said the man was orally raping him.
Video evidence allegedly recorded by the driver on a mobile phone were viewed by the judge in his chambers.
The court heard the first video shows the two men prompting the victim to inhale the “green whistle” and the accused then holding the whistle to his mouth.
The men are recorded shouting at him to “take it”. At one point the victim drops the inhaler and the accused picks it back up and administers it again to the child.
The men are recorded asking the victim to raise his arms to test the effects and the footage shows him losing consciousness.
Two more videos show him unconscious in the parked car with the man orally raping him while he holds the child's head.
Detective Garda Patrick Twomey told the court that on May 20, 2019 another victim made a complaint that the man had sexually assaulted him in the back of a car.
He told gardaí that he knew this man and another man, who had driven the car, as both men knew his sister through the paramedic organisation.
He said the accused had texted him about meeting up and he drove to the boy's home and picked him up. Again the other man was driving and the three went to the beach.
The man told the boy they had this drug called “green whistle” and it was like laughing gas. After being repeatedly asked if he wanted to do it the boy agreed.
The defendant took a medi-bag from the boot of the car and took out the Penthrox vial and the whistle device. He attached the vial to the whistle and showed the boy how to inhale on the whistle.
The court heard that after inhaling a number of times the boy couldn't use his arms. The defendant then attached the whistle to an oxygen mask and pushed it on to the child's face and held it there and told the boy to keep breathing.
The victim was inhaling for around four minutes. He later came around to find he and the man were stripped from the waist down and the man was forcing him to give him a “blow job”, he told gardaí.
The man was also masturbating the child and tried to kiss him. The victim told the man no and pushed the defendant away.
The accused told the driver “ah he's coming back” and said to the victim “do you not want it anymore?”.
The men drove the victim home and the accused asked him if he was ok and “did he regret doing the drug”. The victim told the men he was ok and when he got home he contacted his sister and told her what had happened.
His sister notified gardaí and the child was brought to a sexual assault treatment unit. The court heard the accused had told the boy earlier not to tell his sister about using the drug.
The court heard that the defendant had previously told the boy, by text message, that he'd let him drive his car in exchange for sending “dick pictures” and the boy had sent him one.
After his arrest the accused claimed all the sexual activity was consensual and that the second victim was at all times coherent and had initiated the activity.
The attack on the first victim emerged during the investigation into the later attack when analysis of the men's mobile phones retrieved video footage of the first attack.
Saoirse O'Dúnlaing BL, prosecuting, told the court that the man was charged in November 2019 and entered guilty pleas last March.