An 18-year-old teenager who was 12 when he first raped a seven-year-old friend has been made the subject of a secure hospital order and put on the sex offenders register for life.
Belfast Crown Court Judge Corinne Philpott said the order was “necessary for the protection of the public and for the protection of the defendant”.
The unlimited order means that the teenager, who cannot be named, will be held in a secure unit indefinitely, or until the Secretary of State is advised by doctors that it is safe for him to return to society.
However, the youth, already being held in a secure psychiatric unit, has not been convicted of any offence, including five sex offences he faced, given his current mental condition.
Last week a jury of eight men and four women took just minutes to unanimously find that he did “commit the acts” in each of the three charges of rape and two of gross indecency on the indictment. Although he was initially fit to be interviewed by police in February 2005 in which he admitted sexually abusing his friend, he was deemed unfit to enter any plea, either guilty or not guilty to the charges.
Prosecuting lawyer Laura Levers had told the court the offences took place between July 2003 and December 2004 when the youth, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, was aged between 12 and 13, and his friend was aged seven or eight. The offences took place in the bedroom and attic of the teenager's Belfast home.
In his interviews with police, the teenager said the abuse had started out as a dare to his friend to take down his trousers, although he realised what was going on was wrong.
Lawyer Sean O'Hare, for the youth, agreed to the making of the order which also contained provision for the treatment of his client to be carried out where senior doctors deem best.