Teenage boy sentenced for repeated sexual abuse of his young cousin

Teenage Boy Sentenced For Repeated Sexual Abuse Of His Young Cousin
The now 15-year-old boy pleaded guilty to two counts of raping his cousin on dates between June 2021 and November 2022. Photo: PA Images
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Isabel Hayes

A teenager who repeatedly raped his “defenceless” younger cousin in their mutual grandparents' house has received 18 months detention.

The Central Criminal Court heard how a happy extended family structure has now been shattered as a result of the teenage boy repeatedly sexually abusing his younger cousin – a previously fun child who idolised him and was carefree until his cousin “preyed” on him.


The now 15-year-old boy pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to two counts of raping his cousin on dates between June 2021 and November 2022, when he was aged between 13 and 14 and his victim was aged between seven and eight.

The pleas were entered on a full facts basis, with the court hearing the teenager sexually assaulted the boy on around 10 to 13 occasions during that period. Neither child can be named to protect their anonymity.

In emotional victim impact statements previously read out in court, the boy's parents outlined their devastation at discovering their nephew had been abusing their little boy, and described the difficulties the child continues to face as a result of the abuse.

The court also heard that the teenager himself is alleged to have been the victim of sexual offending while living with his mother. He is now living with his father and other family members who are supporting him in a more secure upbringing, defence counsel said.


Sentencing the teenager on Wednesday, Ms Justice Caroline Biggs described the evidence in the case and victim impact statements as “heart-breaking”.

“I am acutely aware that there are two parts of the same family destroyed by this,” Ms Biggs continued, before noting that the victim is struggling to deal with the abuse.

“He is so truly loved and supported in every conceivable way,” she said, adding that because of this, the young boy has the best possible chance of recovery.

Breach of trust

Ms Justice Biggs said the aggravating features of the case were the “very significant breach of trust” in that the victim looked up to and idolised his older cousin.


She said the abuse occurred over a prolonged period of time and escalated in seriousness. She noted that the teenager had used “cartoons and video games as some sort of ploy” and told the victim “to act normal”.

Ms Justice Biggs said that this indicated that the teenager “knew well that what he was doing was very wrong”.

She accepted he pleaded guilty, made full admissions and expressed remorse. She also acknowledged his difficult family background and the fact that he claims he was a victim of sexual abuse himself for a long period of time.

Ms Justice Biggs further noted that the teenager has no previous convictions and various reports conclude that he is at a low risk of reoffending, but she added that reports state he requires a high level of therapeutic intervention.


“Sometimes the suffering is not only profound and long-lasting, but lasts for a lifetime,” Ms Justice Biggs said, having considered the severe impact of the abuse on the young boy.

She said she must consider case law which recognises that children who commit offences must have their “culpability viewed differently” and that detention should be a last resort for juvenile offenders.

Ms Justice Biggs said if the accused had been an adult at the time of the offending, a headline sentence of 10 years would be warranted.

She set a headline sentence of five years before imposing a three-year term, having taken into account the mitigation in the case.


Ms Justice Biggs said she would enact Section 151 of the Children Act, which allows for the imposition of a sentence that involves half of the term in detention and the remaining half under supervision.

She then imposed 18 months detention and ordered that the teenager be placed under 18 months supervision upon his ultimate release.

The judge said the teenager must never have any further contact with the victim, either directly or indirectly, and he was also placed on the sex offender’s register for 10 years.


A local garda detective told Maurice Coffey SC, prosecuting, that the abuse came to light in November 2022 when the boy and his younger siblings were staying in their grandparents' house, where the teenager, their first cousin, was also staying.

The parents were celebrating a friend's birthday and had not been due to collect their children until the next morning, but they returned unexpectedly to stay the night when the grandparents called to report their baby was unable to settle.

When the boy walked downstairs for a glass of water early the next morning, he unexpectedly came across his mother and told her that the teenager had been in his bed.

The mother was disturbed to hear this and went upstairs where she found the teenager in the bathroom. He came out and told her he had just gone in to check on the boy and his younger siblings.

The little boy later changed his story and told his mother his older cousin had in fact not been in his bed, which immediately aroused her suspicions further. She encouraged her son to tell her the truth, and he then confided in her that his cousin had been sexually abusing him for some time.

The little boy told his mother that the abuse started when he was aged seven and his cousin touched him while he was in his grandparents' sitting room.

He estimated his cousin then sexually assaulted or raped him on 10 to 15 occasions when they were both in their grandparents' house.

He described it happening while family members were in the kitchen, or downstairs. He described bleeding as a result of the anal rapes, that he did not like it and wanted it to stop. He also said his cousin told him not to tell anyone.

When arrested by appointment, the teenager had a pre-prepared statement in which he made full admissions. He stated the abuse started in June 2021 with inappropriate touching and progressed to him carrying out oral sex on his younger cousin and then anal rape.

He said he believed he raped his cousin on three occasions.

He also said that he had himself been the victim of sexual abuse from a young age before he came to live with his father. He has no previous convictions and has been receiving counselling since the abuse came to light, the court heard.

Now I feel like a failure.

In her victim impact statement, which was read out by counsel, the mother described how her world came crumbling down around her the day she discovered her little boy was being abused by his older cousin – “someone he idolised”.

She recalled becoming a mother on the day she gave birth to her son and how she swore to protect him in this big world. “Now I feel like a failure.”

She said her son had been a “carefree, fun little boy” before the abuse, but now he has had to go through things “no little child should go through”.

She recalled how her nephew had blatantly lied to her about being in her child's bed and that he had been abusing her son for the previous year, while family members were in the next room – “like a predator looking for prey”. She said the only good thing she could take from this was that she went with her gut that day.

She said she has spent “endless days” comforting her son in the wake of his disclosure, and that he is “now just existing, he is not living”. He is going through extensive therapy to help deal with the abuse, she said, adding: “Our family is now broken.”

She said her relationship with her parents and brother has also been irreparably damaged as they cannot be in the same room as the teenager.

In his victim impact statement which he read out in court, the boy's father said that before November 2022, he used to consider himself better off than many families. “We had a supportive, loving family, we could pay our bills, go on holidays,” he said.

He added the boy's grandparents could not have done enough for their grandchildren, but this is all gone now. He noted the grandfather was present in court to support the teenager.

“They are both his grandsons, but he has chosen to support the perpetrator,” he said.

He said the teenager groomed his son from the age of six, and “forced himself on my defenceless eight-year-old son”.

He added the teenager now presenting as a victim was immoral. “My son is the actual victim, and we are the ones who distance ourselves from family.”

He said he worries for his son's future and the impact the abuse will have on him, as well as the impact on his younger children.

Ronan Munro SC, defending, said the family structure is now shattered as a result of the teenager's actions. He handed in a number of reports to the court which stated that the teenager is engaging fully with the appropriate services and is receiving counselling in relation to his harmful sexual behaviour as well as his own childhood abuse.

Mr Munro said the child and his father are anxious about the prospect of detention, and that he has demonstrated he can continue his rehabilitation in the community. However, he accepted the offending may be too serious for anything but a period of detention.

Defence counsel submitted the teenager was “on the edge of criminal responsibility”, given he started the offending at the age of 13. He cited a United Nations report that recommended Ireland raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

He noted the boy made full admissions to gardaí, said he was sorry and that he knew it was wrong. He said he will carry the stigma of having a sexual offence conviction for the remainder of his life, which is a punishment in and of itself.

“This is an appallingly difficult case for everyone involved,” Mr Munro said, adding: “As far as he and his family can, they have done their best to turn back the clock, impossible as that is.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800-77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/ or visit Rape Crisis Help.

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