A man who groped an 11-year-old-child in a clothing store has received a suspended prison term after a judge said it was unlikely he would re-offend.
Stephen Gregan (38) of Grove Park, Rathmines, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexual assault at Penneys, Dundrum Town Centre, on June 10, 2017.
Garda Jennifer Quinn told Philip Rahn BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question the then 11-year-old-victim was in the shop with her friends when Gregan pushed up against her and squeezed her bum.
Gda Quinn said the accused tried to make out that it was an accident, but the child noticed that the aisle was wide and he did not have to squeeze past her. She told her friend that the man had touched her, that she did not like it and she started crying.
In interview with gardaí, Gregan initially claimed the touching had been accidental, but after breaking down and getting emotional he admitted it had been intentional. He claimed he was not attracted to children and just wanted help.
“Obviously I am a normal nice guy with a chemical imbalance,” Gregan told gardaí. He has no previous convictions.
Ger Small BL, defending, said her client expressed complete remorse and was extremely apologetic. She said he was in a dysfunctional relationship at the time and was suffering from depression.
Ms Small said her client had been attending counselling since the incident and had been placed on the sex offenders register. She asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence.
Judge Martin Nolan said Gregan knew what he was doing was completely wrong but noted he had had mental health difficulties.
He said the offence was at the lower end of the scale of sexual assault and that he thought it was unlikely that Gregan would re-offend.
He suspended a nine month sentence and ordered that he pay a sum of €5,000 over to the victim. He said this payment was a punishment and he said that the court would dispose of it if the victim does not want it.
Judge Nolan said if he offends again Gregan will go to prison.