Suspended sentences for teens involved in Limerick oral rape attempt

Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

TWO teenage boys who stole a girl’s phone in an attempt to force her to perform oral sex have had detention sentences of three years suspended on strict conditions.

The two boys and the victim are all now aged 17 and, as they are legally designated as minors, none of them can be identified.

The first boy pleaded guilty to attempted oral rape, four counts of sexual assault and one count of assault causing harm on February 6, 2020 at a location in County Limerick. He had just turned 15 at the time of the offending.

The second boy, then aged 14, pleaded guilty to attempted oral rape and four counts of sexual assault on the same date.

The victim was 14 at the time of the incident.

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Both boys have no previous convictions and have not come to Garda attention since this incident.

During a sentence hearing at the Central Criminal Court last month, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said these were “very serious” offences.

He said the victim was subjected to an “awful experience” which can cause lasting damage and was “entitled to protection”.

He said there was a “very nasty element” to the offending as the boys had tried to “trap the girl” and force her to engage by taking her phone. When this approach did not work, violence was used.

Mr Justice McDermott said this showed a “lack of respect” for the girl, her rights and her dignity.

“She is entitled to say no”, he added.

He said there were “very serious” elements to this case including the theft of her phone which was a “cynical and nasty thing to do” to try to get her to submit to their wishes. When this did not work, they turned to violence and intimidation.

The boys “did not accept no as her legitimate answer” and had acted jointly by “ganging up” on the victim in what were “clearly acts of a deliberate nature”.

Setting a headline sentence of six years detention, Mr Justice McDermott indicated he would impose a sentence of nine years on an adult for this “serious” offending.

He noted the mitigating factors include the boys’ guilty pleas, their expressions of remorse and their young age. He then adjourned the case to allow for the preparation of reports from the Probation Service.

Earlier today (Monday) he addressed the teenagers directly and said that he wanted them both to understand something “very important”.

“There are times in life when you get a chance – somebody opens a door, sometimes under conditions or directions that you have to comply with, but the door is opened. The court is giving you an opportunity to go with the people who are trying to help you and embark on a life”

He said it was an exceptional case, considering the boys’ ages at that time and the fact that they had indicted “deep regret, sorrow and shame for what they have done to this girl”.

“I see very negative consequences for you both if you go into custody now, but I see there is potential for both of you now to do better with your lives if you are given this opportunity.”

“You will have to engage with anyone you are asked to engage with, basically do what you’re told. I will have no hesitation imposing the three-year detention if you don’t do as you’re told,” he added.

He suspended a term of three years detention on strict conditions including that they each engage with the Probation Service and cooperate and engage with any programmes deemed suitable.

They are also not to have any contact either directly or indirectly with the victim in the case.

Mr Justice McDermott said that the legislation under the Children Act provides that custody is considered a last resort.

“I don’t want to see either of you back here but if you are brought back here, I will have no hesitation imposing the entire sentence,” he said to the teenagers.