A Tralee court has heard how a sexual relationship between a 19-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl came to light when her father read her diary.
The man, who is now 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of “defilement” and one of sexual assault at a sports pitch in early 2014.
Tralee Circuit Criminal Court heard the relationship began on Facebook in July 2013 before progressing to meeting up face-to-face with other people.
Prosecuting counsel Tom Rice said regular sexual intercourse took place between the pair between the following January and March at a sports pitch.
The matter was uncovered in March 2014, when concerned about a deterioration in her behaviour over the previous months, the father looked at his daughter’s diary where the developing relationship was outlined.
The father went to Gardai and social services also became involved.
In a victim impact statement, the girl who is now 17 and waiting to attend university said her childhood was abruptly taken away and was facing years of recovery.
She said there had been physical and mental abuse and she had suffered from an eating disorder as a result.
Defending, Senior Counsel Anthony Sammon asked for the involvement of the probation services rather than a custodial sentence, saying this was at the end of the day a relationship between two teenagers, even if it did run foul of the criminal law age factors.
He said his client – an extremely shy, nervous young man – was at a low risk of reoffending.
Judge John Hannan reserved his position on overall sentencing.
Reporting restrictions are in place which may be reviewed the judge said, adjourning the matter and remanding the man on continuing bail.