Man who used fake social media profile to lure girl (15) for sex jailed for three years
A man has been jailed for three years for having sex with a 15-year-old girl he met after grooming her using a fake social media profile.
Conor O'Keefe (26) set up a profile as a teenage girl called "Julie" on the website Tagged.com and started chatting with the victim. He later claimed he was Julie's older brother "Adam" and persuaded the girl to get a taxi to his house, where they had sex in the early hours of the morning.
Judge Sarah Berkeley called it a "sinister" offence which highlights the dangers of social media "and the opportunity it creates".
She noted that there was no threat, force or coercion used against the girl and that she was a "willing participant".
However, she said O'Keefe put pressure on her by expressing disappointment when she was reluctant to perform sexual acts. "I do not attribute any blame to her in any way," Judge Berkeley said. "She was a child at the time and is entitled to the protection of the courts."
The judge noted that O'Keefe knew she was a virgin and that he told her she had to select one of three options: sexual intercourse, oral sex or masturbation.
The court heard he set up the profile out of "loneliness and isolation" and that he had a "somewhat difficult childhood".
O'Keefe, of Oakdale Close, Ballycullen, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sex with a child in July 2011. He was found guilty of a further count of sexual exploitation of a child by a jury last month following a three-day trial.
He was to be sentenced last November but the case was adjourned as O'Keefe's partner had given birth to their first child the day before.
O'Keefe, an apprentice plumber, has no previous convictions and is now on the sex offenders register. He was 22-year-old at the time of the offences.
The court heard he is taking part in therapy and the Safer Lives programme run by the Probation Service.
Defence counsel Damien Colgan SC handed in a probation report and a psychological report and asked the court to consider non-custodial options.
Judge Berkeley imposed a five-year sentence with the final two years suspended for two years.
Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, handed in a victim impact statement prepared by the girl into court. The girl did not wish to give evidence and the report was not read in open court.
Mr Colgan submitted this was a "once-off" event.
During the trial all of the factual evidence was agreed between the prosecution and defence and the sole issue for the jury was if O'Keefe intended having sex with the girl when he communicated with her.