Tallaght man sets up fake profile to have sex with girl (15)
A Tallaght man has been convicted of using a fake social media profile to convince a young girl to come to his house and have sex with him.
Conor O’Keefe (26) set up a profile as a 13-year-old girl called “Julie” on the website Tagged.com and started chatting with the 15-year-old victim. He later claimed he was Julie’s older brother “Adam” and persuaded the girl to get a taxi to his house in the early hours of the morning where they had sex.
O’Keefe, of Oakdale Close, Ballycullen, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sex with a child in June 2011 and not guilty to sexual exploitation. He was found guilty by a jury following a three-day trial and four-and-a-half hours deliberation.
O’Keefe admitted having sex with the girl and the trial revolved around whether he had groomed the girl beforehand.
Following conviction, the defence asked that O’Keefe be allowed remain on bail so he could sit his exams as part of his plumbing apprenticeship. Counsel added that he was expecting a child next month with his partner.
Judge Sarah Berkeley agreed to grant him bail for a short time to get his affairs in order, but said that she did not see a situation where he wouldn’t be going to prison. She set a sentence date of November 20, 2015.
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.
The Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2007 states that a person is guilty of an offence if they communicate with a child on two or more occasions with the intention of meeting them for sexual exploitation.
Defence counsel Damien Colgan SC told jurors that the prosecution was asking them to second-guess what was going on in the mind of O’Keefe. He said in this case there were no emails or correspondence to say anything of a sexual nature was spoken between the parties.
During the trial Garda Lisa Duffy told prosecuting counsel Fiona Murphy BL that Tagged.com was a social media site where users created personal profiles and chatted to each other.
The site allowed children to set up profiles, but featured a security feature which made them invisible to adult users.
O’Keefe admitted to gardaí that he set up the profile of “Julia” so he could view the under 18s version of that site.
The victim made contact with the fake profile and the two chatted. “Julia” told the girl she had a 22-year-old brother called Adam who had a car and asked if she would be interested in meeting him. The girl told “Julia” she was only 15.
O’Keefe later spoke to the girl as Adam using the Julia account. He also emailed her a picture of himself using a email address containing his real name.
Early one morning O’Keefe asked the girl to come over to his house. He told her to get a taxi and that he would pay for it. The girl later told gardaí he was “trying to guilt-trip me into coming over” by saying that if she liked him he would agree.
The girl found a taxi to take her to O’Keefe’s house. During this time he was on the phone to her making sure she told the taxi where to go.
When she arrived she said he began “bugging” her about giving him oral sex. He told her she’d have to agree to do something. The girl agreed to have sex with him.
Afterwards he told her “we better get you home” and drove her to her house. When she arrived home her mother could tell something was wrong. The girl told her what happened and gardaí were alerted.
Gardaí interviewed O’Keefe later that day. He said he never intended to have sex with the girl and that he didn’t think they’d ever meet up. He agreed that he was “chancing his arm” when he asked her to come over.
He told gardaí he knew the girl was 15 and that the legal age was 17. He said he knew what he did was wrong and that he tried to contact the girl three times afterwards.
He denied that he was attracted to children or that he used child pornography.