Internet: 'grooming'

A language teacher and a truck driver will be sentenced tomorrow at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for having sex with a 14-year-old they met on a gay website following a major garda probe into the sexual abuse of the child by a number of men.

The Sunday Tribune has learned that a garda and a civil servant – who were exchanging emails and arranging to meet up with the teenager to have sex – will not face charges of soliciting the child for sex because legislation outlawing the sexual "grooming" of children was not in existence at that time.

"Essentially, they got off on a technicality. The garda is no longer a member of the force," said a senior source.

The victim, from north Dublin, began surfing an international gay website in 2007. He later met up with the 45-year-old truck driver and 42-year-old language teacher and had sex with them in 2007 at different houses in Dublin.

The truck driver, from Rush in north Co Dublin, has pleaded guilty to three charges of having sex with a minor including oral and anal sex on 31 January 2007 and on two occasions on 10 January 2007. His wife left him when his actions were revealed.

The language teacher, from Sherrard Street, Dublin, has pleaded guilty to one charge of having sex with a minor on 10 January 2007. The maximum sentence for having sex with a child under 17 is five years. Neither of the two men has any previous convictions. They were both charged under Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act.

Another man arrested in connection with the major garda probe into the sexual abuse of the teenager will also appear at the Circuit Court tomorrow charged with possession of child pornography. He was not charged in relation to abuse of the teenager but when gardaí raided his home in connection with its investigation, a number of child porn images were found on his computer. "He had a few borderline images of 15- to 17-year-old boys and a couple of others of 12- and 13-year-old boys," the source added.

The teenager's mother alerted gardaí when she discovered her son was talking to men on website and arranging to meet them to have sex. "The boy himself willingly had sex with the men and sought them out. He said he did not feel damaged by what happened. His view could change as he gets older. He was doing his Junior Cert at the time. He's an extremely bright and intelligent young man," said the source.

In total, gardaí questioned 12 men during its investigation into the sexual abuse of the 14-year-old. "One French man met up with the boy but as soon as he saw him he said, 'you're jailbait, no way,' and walked away. This boy is quite clearly a young teenager, there is no way the men who had sex with him could have been in any doubt about his age," added the source.