Man (50) raped vulnerable teenage girl after she came to him seeking advice

Robert Fennell, of Woodview Cottages, Rathfarnham, gave alcohol to victim, who woke to find him raping her

A man who raped a vulnerable 16-year-old girl after she came to him seeking advice has been jailed for 10 years.

The Central Criminal Court heard that Robert Fennell, now aged 56, gave the girl alcohol before she woke up in his home to find him raping her.

Fennell, of Woodview Cottages, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14, pleaded guilty to raping the child at his home on June 11th, 2018. He has 28 previous convictions, mainly for road traffic offences.

Passing sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said Fennell, who was 50 at the time, had undoubtedly taken advantage of the teenager’s naivety and vulnerability. He said Fennell knew she was vulnerable and betrayed the trust he had built up with her.


He noted the guilty plea, which was valuable, but said it had been entered at a late stage, leaving the complainant in a situation where she had to prepare for the case on several occasions and then face the overwhelming disappointment of trials not proceeding.

Mr Justice McDermot set a headline sentence of 12 years and, taking mitigation into account, he reduced it to 11 years’ imprisonment. He suspended the last year for two years on strict conditions including that Fennell undertake assessment for offence-focused work, addiction treatment and drug monitoring. He also ordered that he have no unsupervised access to children.

Det Garda Gavin Cooke told Gerard Clarke SC, prosecuting, that the teenager had been having difficulties in her personal life. While speaking to a person she believed to be a 17-year-old boy through social media, he told her he knew a man who could help her with her problems.

The “boy” gave her Fennell’s details and she contacted him. He allayed any suspicions she had on learning he was a 50-year old man by telling her he had a daughter and girlfriend around her age. They arranged to meet and on the first occasion nothing untoward happened.

The second time they met he gave her five to six cans of Bulmers. The girl fell asleep and woke up to find Fennell having sex with her. She was afraid and pretended to remain asleep.

Earlier in the evening, Fennell had been talking about killing or murdering people and for this reason she decided to remain quiet. When he left, she made her way out of the house.

Gardaí were alerted and the accused was interviewed. He initially claimed it was a “set up”, that he could not remember having sex with the girl and blamed it on drink or drugs.

Fennell consistently denied being the person who had made initial social media contact with the girl, insisting this person existed but gardaí were unable to track him down.

In her victim impact statement, the young woman said she had since moved as she had been so terrified by what occurred. She outlined how it still affects her life and she hopes to attend counselling.

John Byrne SC, defending, said his client wished to offer a full apology, was deeply ashamed of what he did and was conscious of the effect of the offence on the injured party.

Counsel said Fennell was willing to use his time in custody to deal with his “demons” and willing to engage with whatever services are available to him in prison.