Man is acquitted of sex attack on girl aged 13
A 25-year-old man was acquitted yesterday of having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl when he was 18.
The man, on trial at Donegal Circuit Court, had pleaded not guilty to a single count of sexually assaulting the girl in his car at a beach car park on a date in October 2003.
He admitted having sex with the young girl but insisted that he believed she was 18 or 19 at the time.
He was the sixth man to face charges of sexually assaulting the girl when she was 12 and 13 and the only one to be acquitted.
The troubled 13-year-old, who kept a detailed diary of her sexual exploits, recorded having sex 57 times with 22 men by the age of 13.
Three men are serving jail sentences while two others have been given suspended jail sentences.
The prosecution case was not that she had been coerced into sex, but that she was not legally capable of consenting to sex.
The judge told the jurors that a mistake about the age of a young person could be raised by the defence. If the jury concluded that there had been such a mistake, then the defendant must be given the benefit of the doubt.