Teenager who spanked neighbour loses appeal

Teenager Who Spanked Neighbour Loses Appeal Teenager Who Spanked Neighbour Loses Appeal
Mr Justice George Birmingham said there is no doubt that cases involving young people should be prioritised but in this case, he said, there was no prejudice from the delay.
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Eoin Reynolds

A teenager who sexually assaulted a neighbouring child by spanking him has lost an appeal against his conviction.

The now 16-year-old boy, who can't be identified because of his age, was found guilty by a jury in December 2020 of one count of sexually assaulting the then six-year-old child in April 2019.

The boy's lawyers appealed his conviction on the grounds that there was a delay in taking his case to trial. They also argued that there was an unfairness in the trial judge's decision to allow the victim to watch a video of himself making the allegation as a means of refreshing his memory.

Lawyers for the defendant said they could not properly cross-examine him because he would answer questions not based on his memory of the incident, but based on his memory of what he had said in the video.

'No prejudice from delay'


President of the three-judge Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham today delivered the judgement dismissing the grounds of appeal. He said there is no doubt that cases involving young people should be prioritised but in this case, he said, there was no prejudice from the delay.

He said the allegation was "straightforward" and did not involve a young complainant trying to describe a prolonged pattern of behaviour. He said the evidence derived from the victim's recorded interview with specialist interviewers was unchallenged, save for the defence barrister's assertion to the jury that the accused denied the allegation.

He dismissed the complaint regarding the decision to allow the boy to view a video of his own interview, saying that the "point has less direct force than it might have in other cases" given that the defence did not cross-examine the complainant and therefore the only account before the court was the one given by the complainant.

During the trial, the Circuit Criminal Court heard that the two boys were in a local field adjacent to both their homes when the older boy pulled down the trousers and pants of the younger child and smacked his bare bottom a number of times.


Sentencing the boy in January this year, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said the sexual assault had had a significant impact on the victim and his family. He said the child was left “traumatised, vulnerable and intimidated” after the incident.

He noted that the families no longer had the “close and cordial” relationship they previously enjoyed.

The defendant's mother previously told the court that they have taken steps to ensure their son is never on his own with younger children. He is doing well in school and intends to go on to third level education, the court heard.

Mr Justice Coffey said the boy comes from a “good and law-abiding family” and that his parents are “deeply committed to his upbringing and welfare”.

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The judge placed the offending at the lower end of the scale and said he would deal with it by way of a community sanction. He ordered that the boy be placed under the supervision of the Probation Service until November 2023, when he turns 19.

He outlined a number of conditions, including that the boy have no contact with the victim or the victim's family, have no unsupervised contact with children and continue with his full-time education.

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