A Newry man found guilty of seven offences of sexual activity involving a child has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.
Kami Olkowski, of Barcroft Park, appeared before Newry Crown Court on Thursday, via video-link from Maghaberry.
The 43-year-old man was charged with seven counts of offences relating to sexual activity with a child. This included five counts of sexual activity by an adult with a child, one count of sexual activity with a child involving penetration and one further count of sexual activity in the presence of a child.
The defendant had been convicted by a jury of the seven counts, which all occurred on the evening of April 14, 2018, and were inflicted on a 13-year-old girl.
The defendant continues to deny the allegations of which he was found guilty of by the jury.
The court heard that the background of the offence was that the girl – unrelated to the defendant – had been sleeping on a sofa at the time.
The court heard the range of incidents that occurred during the course of the night, which included the girl waking and feeling the defendant “touching her breasts” both under and over her clothes. He also placed his hand “inside her pants”.
At one stage, the girl observed him, “moving in the area of the couch that she was lying on and saw him masturbating”.
The following morning, the girl, who was “clearly distressed”, made an “immediate complaint”.
The matter was reported to police, who arrived at the house at 6.55am.
The defendant was interviewed on April 15, and said that he had “had a couple of cans of beer at his parent’s house” and a further 11 cans of beer later that night, after leaving his parents’ home.
He also said that he “did nothing” and that he had rang police.
He was further interviewed on March 7, when he said that he had he never touched the girl, that he did not know her and that he did not know why she was accusing him.
The court was told of a statement made by the girl, which told of the physical and mental effects that the incident had on her.
The statement told of her self-harming, overdosing on tablets and having panic attacks in school as a result of the incident. It also said that she was “tormented” by the fact that “a lot of people” believed her to be lying and had asked her why she had made it up, using “derogatory names” against her.
The pre-sentence report told how the defendant was divorced and that his relationship had “deteriorated” as a result of the offending.
Following his arrest for the offences he had resided with his parents while subject to bail.
The report also noted that he continues to deny the offending, but assesses that he is not “presenting as a significant risk of serious harm”.
Presiding over the sentencing, His Honour Judge Kerr KC said: “Although all of the offences, were on the one occasion, the fact that there was multiple offences is clearly in my view an aggravating feature.”
Judge Kerr added: “This is not a man with a clear record. Although I accept he has no offending of this type, he does have previous convictions and therefore, in my view, is a person who is not of previous good character.”
For the charge of sexual activity involving penetration, Judge Kerr sentenced the defendant to four and a half years in prison, alongside lesser prison sentences for the other offences, which would run concurrently with the four and a half years.
The sentences were to be served 50% in custody and 50% on licence.
The defendant was also placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and placed on the Children Barred list.
Due to the pre-sentence report’s evaluation that he is not a general risk to the public of serious harm, Judge Kerr said: “I consider that the protection of the public is adequately maintained by those provisions”, and thus declined to make a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).
Finally, a restraining order was made in favour of the complainant, to run for a period of ten years.
Welcoming the sentence, Detective Chief Inspector Heather Campbell, said: “No child should ever have to suffer this type of horrific abuse.
“For such a young person to speak up and go through the criminal justice system is extremely difficult. I want to commend them and their family for their bravery in coming forward and for working with detectives to bring this abuser to justice.
“We have specially trained officers who work closely with victims throughout the criminal justice process. We are determined to bring anyone involved in any form of child abuse before the courts to be made amenable for their crimes. We treat victims with the upmost respect and sensitivity and will work closely with them, even in challenging circumstances, to support them in any way they can.
“We will help you, we will listen to you, we will treat you with sensitivity. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Please contact us on 101 or in an emergency call 999.”