Teenage girl to stand trial for having child sex material

A teenage girl will go before Letterkenny Circuit Court for possessing child sex material.

District Court Judge Éiteáin Cunningham refused an application for the case of the 17-year-old to be heard by the Children’s Court.

Judge Cunningham had heard submissions from the girl’s solicitor, Mr Frank Dorrian, and from Garda Sergeant Jim Collins, for the State, in the case.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is charged that on February 12, 2023, at an address in Letterkenny, she did knowingly have in her possession child pornography to wit five videos and eight images.

The charge is contrary to section 6 (1) of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998.

An application for the teenage girl’s case to be retained by the Children’s Court was made by Mr Dorrian, while An Garda Siochana opposed that request.

After considering the facts of the case, the age and level of maturity of the girl, Judge Cunningham said she did not find it to be a minor offence.

Therefore, Judge Cunningham refused the application and the case will now go to the higher court.

The girl was not present when Judge Cunningham confirmed that she was refusing jurisdiction.

She had been in court for previous hearings on the matter when she was accompanied by her mother and social workers.

At a previous court appearance, Sergeant Collins said that there was an allegation that the girl was using Instagram to distribute items of a sexual nature.

Gardai carried out enquiries and found that the device used was logged to a certain address. Detectives obtained a warrant and seized the device.

During the analysis, officers found two videos of a category 1 nature – the worst level of such material. These videos depicted prepubescent females engaged in sexual activities.

There were three videos in category 2 and eight images classified as category 3.

When questioned by gardai during her detention, the girl was asked if she knew the difference between right and wrong and she replied: “Of course I do.”

Analysis of her search history showed that she specifically sought out such material.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has instructed prosecution on indictment, but Mr Dorrian made a section 75 application for the Children’s Court to retain the case and deal with it summarily.

Under section 75 of the Children’s Act, the Children’s Court can exercise discretion to accept jurisdiction in cases where a child is charged with an indictable offence – other than specific exceptions such as manslaughter – and deal with them summarily.

Mr Dorrian said that while the offences “are serious and, of course, indictable, the level concerned was not necessarily one that would attract a custodial sentence”.

He said the material was not “at the extreme end of the spectrum”.

Mr Dorrian said there were “maturity issues” with his client

“We are looking at a very unwelcome activity at a very moderate level committed by a child who wishes to plead guilty,” Mr Dorrian said.

“This is a young, vulnerable lady, there is a desire to plead guilty and it is not guaranteed to reach the custodial sentence threshold in the Circuit Court.”

Bail was granted on conditions that include that the girl have no unsupervised access to social media.

A book of evidence is due to be served on the girl on July 15.

Teenage girl to stand trial for having child sex material was last modified: May 19th, 2024 by Staff Writer