Photo: Wikicommons, 2006 Kaihsu Tai

Judge feels sorry for defendant in underage sex case

A judge has said that she feels sorry for a man that she has sentenced for having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

The pair had consensual sex in the car park of Morrisons in Royal Leamington Spa in the early hours of the morning in June 2014.

They had walked to the supermarket with a group of friends, who then left the pair to go to a nearby McDonalds.

The girl originally claimed that the man had left her immediately after they had sex, but CCTV showed that they left the car park together, and went to a fast food restaurant.

Prosecutor Andrew Wallace said that the man, from Warwick, was said to have been “excited, shouting and annoying everyone” and had “tried it on” with one of the girl’s friends.

The girl cannot be named for legal reasons, and was close to being 16 at the time. She had attended Leamington Peace music festival and had drunk a large quantity of alcohol.

Connor O’Keefe, now 18, but 17 at the time of having sex with the girl, was originally charged with rape. He was cleared of this last month at Warwick Crown Court.

Instead, he pleaded guilty to the alternative offence of sexual activity with a child. This new plea was accepted after the girl’s evidence had been found to be unreliable.

O’Keefe was sentenced by Judge Sylvia de Bertodano to a one month conditional discharge and ordered to register as a sex offender for two weeks.

According to the Telegraph’s summary of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, anyone who rapes, sexually penetrates, or sexually touches a child under the age of 13 is guilty of an offence.

If the victim is aged between 13 and 16, no offence is committed if the victim consents and the defendant believes, on reasonable grounds, that the child is at least 16. However, only taking the victim’s word for his or her age may not be enough.

Offenders under 18 commit a lesser offence with lower penalties.

Judge de Bertodano was critical of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for bringing this case to court.

She said: “I don’t know what the world has come to when I am asked to deal with two teenagers who got drunk and had sex.”

She added: “I feel extremely sorry for you [O’Keefe] having to end up in this position.

“Clearly this started as a very serious case, but what it comes to is simply a teenage incident which should never have come near the courts at all.”

Adam Donlon, first-year English Literature and German student, said: “I agree completely with the judge, it seems completely preposterous …. This merely clarifies that young teenagers should consider sexual activity seriously, as to not have it affect their entire futures, and to understand the uncontrollable effects of alcohol.”

Ellie Drave, first-year German and Politics student, added: “The fact that the boy’s name was mentioned publicly and not the girl’s just embodies why we should feel sorry for the boy.

“If it were a rape case then I think neither of their names should be mentioned but it was consensual so I see no reason why her’s shouldn’t [be publicly mentioned].

“It should’ve been dealt with by their parents not by the CPS in my opinion.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.