A teenager who filmed a 12-year-old girl performing oral sex on him while his friends took photographs has appealed the severity of his sentence.
The appellant, who was 16 at the time of the offence, later threatened to send the photos to a sport club his victim was involved with if she refused to perform oral sex on one of his friends.
He pleaded guilty in June 2019 to two counts of defilement of a child under the age of 15 and was sentenced to four years imprisonment. The sentencing judge, Mr Justice Michael White, described the offence as "cruel" and said he was concerned that the defendant had minimised the offence to probation officers by portraying it as a minor offence or "something that got out of hand".
At the three-judge Court of Appeal this Thursday, Michael Bowman SC for the appellant said that the trial judge failed to sufficiently take into account his client's young age at the time of the offence. He also pointed to a number of mitigating factors including that he had no previous convictions, was of good character and saved the victim the distress of a trial by entering an early guilty plea.
The judges of the appeal court noted that the offence, under Section 2 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006, carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Mr Bowman responded that there was no "gratuitous physical violence" or "physical dominance" and that the sentence imposed would not be out of the ordinary for a person convicted of rape. He also pointed out that his client believed the girl to be 14 as she had allegedly lied to him about her age.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice John Edwards with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, reserved judgment.
The appellant began exchanging messages with the victim via social media and on August 15, 2015, they agreed to meet in a Dublin park. She was accompanied by a friend while he was with a group of young men.
She said she was taken away from the group by the defendant and was required to put his penis in her mouth after being made to kneel on the ground. She said she felt "really dirty" and ran off when it was over.
She said some of the young men present took photos of what had happened and gardai later discovered that the boy had filmed the incident on his mobile phone. He had also sent the video to another person.
The victim was shown some of the photos before she left the park and said she felt that if anyone saw them it would ruin her reputation.
Four days later they met again and this time the defendant was again with a group of young men. When he got her alone she again put his penis in her mouth after he pushed her down. The appellant then told her that she had to peform oral sex on his younger friend or he would reveal the photos of the previous incident to her sport club.
In a victim impact statement the girl said: “They have taken away my teen years as I'm a prisoner in my own home and I know I'll carry this burden for the rest of my life. Although I am working hard to come back from this, I'm still terrified.”