A man who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl just weeks after first meeting her on her Confirmation day walked free from court yesterday.
Colin Reynolds (27), a father of two from Highfield, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, admitted sexually assaulting the girl on a date between June and August 2002 when he was 19. He is one of six men before the courts -- and the third to be sentenced -- for sexually assaulting the girl when she was aged between 12 and 13.
Reynolds fought back tears yesterday as he apologised to his young victim for the hurt he had caused.
Sentencing him to 18 months' imprisonment but suspending this for five years, Judge Raymond Fullam said he accepted his remorse was genuine.
The judge added that Reynolds would carry the social disgrace from being placed on the sex offenders' register for five years.
The judge described the particular offence as "not particularly significant" in the litany of offences the victim had suffered in totality.
Earlier, Garda Liam Feeney told Donegal Circuit Court that Reynolds met the girl in a schoolyard shelter. He had been kissing her 15-year-old friend first and later moved a short distance away to kiss the younger girl. He had sex with the 12-year-old in the same location less than two months later.
The court heard that he met the woman who is now his wife shortly after that and ignored telephone and text messages that were sent to him via several phones from the victim.
Gda Feeney told the court the matter had been troubling Reynolds since then and had never left him.
Taking the stand, an emotional Reynolds -- whose daughters are five and two -- said the pending sentencing had put "a bit of a dampener" on his wedding day last month.
He claimed he was very immature at the time and had not planned for the sex to happen. "I would like to say to the court that I am very sorry for any wrongdoing and more so to (the victim). I know it must be very hard for her.
"I do feel sorry for her. She had a tough time. I am sorry for any hurt I have been involved in and I hope she can get on with her life now," he said.
Gda Feeney confirmed the troubled young victim, now aged 20, had kept a detailed diary that included the names of 60 men. And she claimed to have had sex with 21 of the men named.
In her victim statement, she revealed how she had attempted to run away and take drugs to "block out the reality that was my life".
She also revealed how her legs and arms are covered in scars as a result of self-harm.
"I hated my life and I wanted to die. I was a child. I do not feel raped. I feel robbed of my childhood," she said.
Gda Feeney said the victim was now in a relationship and working hard to return to full-time education.
Judge Fullam described the statement as harrowing and very distressing.
"It's clear her life has been transformed for the good as a result of the gardai and health board, but principally from her own determination to change her life," he said.
Paul Gilmore (30) and Kenneth McDonald (34), both from Lawne Park, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, are serving jail sentences for sexually assaulting the girl.
Source Irish Independent