Longford man and former teacher pleads guilty to sex with teenage girl

A former teacher who engaged in multiple acts of defilement and sexual exploitation of a Longford schoolgirl says he was scared and ashamed of what he has done.

The 35 year old pleaded guilty earlier this year to five offences which occurred between October and December 2013.

Longford Circuit Court heard how the defendant befriended the 13 year old by sending her a friend request via a bogus Facebook page in August 2013.

They subsequently met in a car park in Longford Town and the man told the girl he was 18 when he was in fact 28

The court heard the man would pick the girl up in his car and go to her home and in October 2013, they had sex for the first time after watching a film.

A number of similar incidents occurred in the following months, including in the man’s car.

The meetings stopped in December after a Facebook message from the accused before he contacted her again in May 2015 via social media.

Investigations began in 2016 after the girl was told that he couldn’t go on a weekend away with her due to a sports injury.

The girl told her parents and they became aware that the son of a close acquaintance had also suffered a similar injury and a Facebook search revealed his identity.

He was arrested in February 2018 at a secondary school in Dublin and initially denied any involvement.

However, in May of this year he pleaded guilty to four counts of having sex with a child under the age of 15 and one charge of sexual exploitation.

At his sentence hearing, the girl said that the incidents left her full of blame and feeling insecure.

The man read a letter of apology, claiming that he “never thought I would be capable of such things” and that “I lied to you, I lied to gardai and I was also lying to myself.”

He brought €10,000 by way of compensation into court and has been accepted onto the Phoenix programme, an initiative run by sex abuse survivor charity One in Four.

Judge Keenan Johnston adjourned final sentencing until January 2021 but warned the man that he is facing a prison term, despite his good record, and the element of grooming in the case was “very concerning”.