Monaghan sex offender jailed for Dundalk schoolgirl approach

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  • by By Declan Brennan

A Monaghan man who is unable to control his sexual behaviour after suffering damage to the frontal lobe of his brain has received a five year jail sentence for inviting two schoolgirls to take part in a sexual act with him.

Peter Clarke (69) of O’Neill St, Carrickmacross was found guilty of two counts of sexual exploitation of a child contrary to section 3 of the Child trafficking and Pornography Act after a trial at Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court last September.

Clarke who has a previous address at Tully, Corcreaghy, Dundalk, Co Louth had denied inviting the then first year students to participate in a sexual act at a location in Dundalk on September 9, 2011.

Judge Rory MacCabe today/yesterday (MON) sitting at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin said that Clarke “presents as being predatory and at the same time vulnerable”.

He noted he is at a high risk of similar offending whether in the community or in custody. He imposed a five year prison sentence to begin from the date of conviction on September 24, 2013.

He suspended the final three years for three years on condition that Clarke comply with all directions of the Probation Services.

Garda Ronan Costello told Kevin Segrave BL, prosecuting, that the two 12-year-old girls were sitting outside a cafe during a break from school when Clarke approached them.

He agreed that Clarke went up to them and made a “colloquial” invitation to sexual activity after placing a five euro note on the table. He walked away but came back and repeated the invitation before driving off in a green Jaguar car.

Gardai tracked him down by tracing the distinctive car and Clarke said he couldn’t remember making the propositions but admitted he could have.

Gda Costello told the court that Clarke has 15 previous convictions including three for sexual assault.

He is currently serving two concurrent five year prison sentences in the Midlands Prison for two sexual assaults committed on September 10 and May 12, 2011. He received these sentences at Monaghan Circuit Criminal Court on January 11, 2013.

He also has four convictions for public indecency for offences committed in April 2011, October 2007 and on February 2, 2007. His third conviction for sexual assault was committed on February 2, 2007.

Roderick O’Hanlon SC, defending, told the court that his client was involved in a significant road traffic accident 20 years ago and suffered damage to his frontal lobe.

He said he has suffered brain atrophy and operates on a “mildly mentally handicapped basis”. He said he can operate on a substantially independent basis but his disinhibition function is absent.

Counsel said: “He has an inability to properly control himself as regards sexual matters particularly it would appear with younger females.”

Mr O’Hanlon said Clarke is aware of this and has taken medication with a view to controlling his behaviour. He said the prognosis is not optimistic in terms of medically dealing with the situation and that there are only around half a dozen non-custodial accommodation places suitable for him.

The court heard that steps are being taken to have Clarke admitted to the Central Mental Hospital for assessment and suitable treatment.

Judge MacCabe said: “He presents as being predatory and at the same time vulnerable. His mental state is progressively deteriorating. He is at a high risk of similar offending in community.”

He said there is no readily non custodial environment where the public and he could be safe.

Judge MacCabe also banned Clarke from driving for 20 years.


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