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02/08/2021

Former garda appeals conviction for sexual assault of young girl

Former garda appeals conviction for sexual assault of young girl

A former garda who sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl and was found in possession of child pornography, has lost an appeal against the conditions laid down for his post-release supervision.

The 60-year-old, who can't be named to protect the identity of his victim, has already been released from prison but is subject to three years of post-release supervision. His lawyers had argued to the three-judge Court of Appeal that the supervision period was disproportionate.

Delivering judgement today on behalf of the court Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the supervision order was "fair and reasonable and entirely justified" given the nature of the offences.

In 2018 the appellant was convicted after a trial at the Circuit Criminal Court of sexually assaulting the then 11-year-old girl at his apartment on an unknown date between February and September of 2016. He was also convicted of possession of child pornography at his apartment on September 15 of the same year.

He was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended for the sexual assault charge. The suspended portion was imposed on the condition that he be subject to three years of post-release supervision by the Probation Service. A sentence of nine months for possession of child pornography ran concurrently. At his trial he denied any wrongdoing and said he spent time with the girl because he took pity on her. He claimed that he had no sexual interest in children. 

The complainant told gardai that she was sexually assaulted after she went to his apartment to retrieve a Barbie DVD. He placed his hand on her vagina, she said, and then warned her not to tell anyone. He also took her swimming and exposed his penis to her while getting changed and on another occasion brought her shopping for a bra.

The DPP said there was evidence of "grooming behaviour" over an extended period.

Following the girl's complaint gardai executed a warrant to search the man's apartment and found a child's swimming goggles, assorted children's DVDs, adult pornographic DVDs, a girl's school uniform and a handwritten note in child-like writing. They also discovered a DVD which was found to contain eleven images of child pornography and a further 123 pictures of girls under the age of 17 in "model-like poses" which were not deemed to be illegal under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act. The disc also contained photographs of the appellant.

Colman Cody SC for the appellant attempted to have the conviction overturned, arguing that the trial judge should not have allowed both the child pornography and the sexual assault charges to be heard in front of the same jury. Ms Justice Kennedy dismissed that appeal saying that the trial judge was correct in finding that there was a sufficient link between the offences to have them tried together.

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