Galway Bay fm newsroom:
A Galway man who abused the son of a woman he had met through a dating website has avoided a jail term on condition that he stays away from children for 10 years.
The 45-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the child, met the victim’s mother through the website PlentyOfFish. He began exchanging messages and phone calls on a daily basis with her before he befriended her then 10-year-old son on Facebook.
Paul Hyland reports:
Garda John Doherty told Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that the man travelled to the woman’s house in April 2013 and spent the weekend there before he visited the family again the following month.
It was during this second visit that he sexually assaulted the boy after he ended up sleeping in the woman’s bed with the child.
He initially denied the charge but pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court the day before his trial to sexual assault at the boy’s home in May 2013. He has two previous convictions for theft.
The now 16-year-old did not make a victim impact statement but his mother made one on his behalf, which was read into the record by Ms O’Sullivan. In it she stated that her son has difficulty trusting males which impacts on his ability to play sports.
Judge Melanie Greally had adjourned the case after hearing evidence in February 2019 and placed the man on a 12 month probation bond.
Today she sentenced him to 12 months in prison which she suspended in full on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for those 12 months.
Judge Greally imposed a second condition on the man that he have no unsupervised contact with children and that he not be in the immediate vicinity of a creche, school, playground or any private or public amenity where children may congregate, for 10 years.
She warned the man that if he were to break either of these two conditions he would be brought back before her and jailed for a year. The judge commented that she had to ‘put things in place to make sure the man is not a risk to society’.
Judge Greally took into account a probation report which outlined that the man has since attended 44 sessions of psychotherapy and is considered to be psychologically vulnerable.
She acknowledged that in terms of sexual offending, the crime itself was in the lower range but said it had serious implications for the victim and his mother.