Teen jailed for raping 14-year-old girl

Helen's Bay sandy beach, seen on an overcast day
Image caption,

The incident happened in 2021 at Helen's Bay in north Down

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A teenager convicted by a jury of raping a 14-year old girl at a County Down beauty spot was jailed for 18 months on Thursday.

He was 16 at the time of the rape, therefore stood trial as a youth and cannot be named due to his age.

He will spend an additional two years on licence when he is released from Hydebank Young Offenders Centre.

During Thursday's sentencing at Belfast Crown Court, it emerged that despite the jury's guilty verdict following a trial in April, the teenager continues to deny raping the girl.

Saying the male's behaviour towards his victim displayed a "sense of entitlement" and "sexual aggression", Judge Mark Reel described the incident as "a rape of a child by another child".

Warning - some readers may find aspects of this story distressing

During the trial, the jury was told that the 14-year-old victim was raped in a wooded area at Helen's Bay and was left with multiple cuts and abrasions to her legs.

On the afternoon of 17 July, 2021 she and a group of friends got the train from Belfast to Helen's Bay.

She consumed alcohol that day and at around 20:00 BST she began walking with others back from the beach to the train halt when she was approached by the male, who before the incident had sent her sexualised messages.

The teenager, who had been at Helen's Bay with another group of friends, grabbed her from behind and guided her off the path and into some woods.

The 14-year-old girl told him that she didn't want to do anything sexual with him but he pushed her into bushes, forced her onto the ground on her front then proceeded to rape her.

When she gave evidence at the trial, the teenage girl recalled the incident.

Describing the male as "three times my size", she said she kept saying "no" and that her legs were being stung by nettles.

She said: "I couldn't fight him. I was saying 'no' but he told me to shut up. I was shouting at him to get off me. I kept saying 'no' and that I didn't want this."

The jury heard that she told him 'no' "at least seven times" and that she was face down "the whole time".

She said the incident lasted around ten minutes and that it left her with "multiple cuts" all over her legs.

The jury also heard that after the sex attack ended, she was shocked - then got up and walked to the train halt.

She said that after getting on the Belfast-bound train, she noticed he was on the same train. She also said that after getting off the train at Lanyon Place Station in Belfast, she told two of her friends what had just happened.

The girl said "it properly hit me the next morning what had happened" and that he messaged her on Snapchat telling her to get the morning after pill.

She said this message "disgusted" her and added: "I thought 'you just raped me'. I didn't reply and I haven't spoken to him since."

'Dishonest account'

At Thursday's sentencing, Judge Reel said the male's version of events at the trial, where he claimed the sexual activity was both consensual and instigated by her, was a "dishonest account".

The judge revealed that when he was interviewed about the rape, the male admitted to police to having had 12 previous sexual partners.

He said that after reading a pre-sentence report compiled on the male by the probation board, it was clear he continues to deny rape.

Judge Reel added that despite probation concluding that there was a low likelihood of the male re-offending, "they note that they have to do a lot of work with him in terms of sexual and non-sexual relationships and personal development".

Turning to the teenage victim, the judge said she had been "significantly harmed" by what happened to her in July 2021.

He continued: "Since the incident, she describes a multitude of adverse impacts upon her day-to-day functioning caused by this rape."

This, he said, included her schoolwork and sleep pattern being affected, re-living the experience, feelings of anxiety and the "heavy toll the trial process had upon her."

The judge also spoke of her feelings of vindication that the jury believed her and returned a guilty verdict, and expressed the hope that "she can succeed in her future".

Judge Reel then addressed the teenager as he stood in the dock and told him: "Your offending is so serious that neither a fine nor a community sentence can be justified and only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate."

He imposed a three-and-a-half year sentence which was divided between 18 months in custody followed by two years on licence.

The male, who was placed on the sex offenders register when he was convicted by a jury in April, was also made the subject of a five-year sexual offences prevention order.

  • If you have been affected by rape or sexual violence, you can visit BBC Action Line to find sources of support.

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